Technology

Samsung Wants to Turn Your iPhone Into a Foldable Phone… Sort Of


Just about every major smartphone company has released a foldable phone, or has announced plans to do so. 

Except Apple.

Samsung is well aware of that fact, and it’s using the iPhone maker’s absence in an attempt to win over Apple loyalists. The South Korean tech giant just released an update for its Try Galaxy app that lets users simulate the experience of using Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold device by placing two iPhones side by side. The feature is available on Android phones too, but Samsung just expanded the Try Galaxy app to work on iPhones.

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Watch this: Review: Our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Video Review

The update comes after Samsung launched its latest foldable phones, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Galaxy Z Fold 5, at a high-profile event in Seoul last month with appearances from celebrities such as BTS’ Suga and Euphoria star Sydney Sweeney. Samsung’s app may be a marketing ploy, but it’s also another sign that it sees foldables as being a key part of its strategy in competing with Apple, its biggest rival in the global smartphone market. 

Using the app on your iPhone involves scanning a QR code from Samsung, which is available in the company’s press release. Doing so will allow you to add a shortcut to Samsung’s Try Galaxy app to an iPhone’s home screen. Launching the shortcut pulls up a simulation of Samsung’s One UI Android software. But those who have two iPhones handy can use them together to imitate how the software would look on Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold. 

There are a couple of short demos available to try in this mode, such as an air hockey game and an animated video of an ocean scene showing a whale and other aquatic creatures swimming across screens. These demos aren’t very reflective of what it’s like to actually use the Galaxy Z Fold, but Samsung is clearly trying to illustrate what apps can look like when spread across two displays. 

An air hockey video game being shown on two iPhones.

Samsung’s Try Galaxy app tries to simulate the experience of using the Galaxy Z Fold on two iPhones. 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Still, using the Galaxy Z Fold feels notably different. I’ve tried several generations of the Galaxy Z Fold, and its biggest advantage is the way regular apps, like Netflix, Chrome and YouTube, are displayed on a much larger screen. Putting two phones together doesn’t accurately re-create that experience.

An animated video showing a fish and coral underwater across two iPhones.

Samsung’s Try Galaxy app includes a video demo that’s meant to show what an app can look like when displayed across two screens.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

But Samsung’s demo does show how apps work in split-screen mode, which can be helpful for those considering switching to a foldable device. In this demo, you are prompted to open the messages app on one iPhone and the photo gallery app on the other. From there, a prompt instructs the user to drag and drop photos from one iPhone into the messages app displayed on its companion iPhone. It provides a relatively realistic representation of what it’s like to use Samsung’s multitasking features. However, it’s worth remembering that the Z Fold’s shape is different from that of a regular phone, so apps in split-screen mode won’t look exactly like using two phones side by side.

Since the Try Galaxy app is a limited demo, I couldn’t re-create the exact experience on my Galaxy Z Fold 4. But the image below shows how three split-screen apps look on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 compared to Samsung’s app.

Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 4 (left) and Samsung's Try Galaxy app running on two iPhones (right).

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 (left) and Samsung’s Try Galaxy app running on two iPhones (right).

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Samsung certainly has incentive to promote its foldable devices. It’s facing more competition than ever from new entrants like Google and OnePlus and existing rivals like Motorola and Oppo, all of which have released or are planning to launch new foldable phones this year. 

Worldwide shipments of foldable phones are also expected to grow more than 50% in 2023, according to market research firm International Data Corporation, giving Samsung and others more motivation to invest in the space. IDC’s report also refers to foldables as the “one positive talking point” in the smartphone industry, considering the market declined more than 11% last year. 

Apple hasn’t mentioned any plans to release a foldable iPhone. But the company is rumored to be working on a foldable device that could arrive in 2025, according to TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who is known for his Apple product predictions. He believes Apple could release a “foldable iPad” or an iPhone-iPad hybrid, as he posted on Twitter (now called X) in April 2022. 

Still, it’s unclear if or when Apple will ever launch a foldable device. And Samsung is sure to keep reminding users of that until we hear from Apple.