(Pocket-lint) - Samsung revealed its first foldable smartphone in the Galaxy Fold in the first half of 2019. Since then, it has released a 'fixed' version of the device, followed by the Galaxy Z Flip that folds horizontally rather than vertically, and most recently, a second generation of the Fold in the Z Fold 2.

The company isn't likely to stop there though given at the end of Galaxy Unpacked 2020 in August, it said foldables and 5G were the pilars of Samsung's smartphone business going forward.

With rumours of a cheaper Galaxy Z Fold device in the works, here is everything we have heard so far about what we expect to be called the Galaxy Z Fold Lite.

What might a cheaper Galaxy Z Fold be called?

  • Galaxy Z Fold e
  • Galaxy Z Fold Lite

When Samsung launched the Galaxy S10 series, it introduced a cheaper model called the Samsung Galaxy S10e, offering the same processor but cutting back on some design aspects, like featuring a flat display instead of curved. 

Following the S10e, Samsung announced the S10 Lite, which was a taster of the design elements we then saw on the Galaxy S20 range. While there is no 'e' model or 'Lite' model for the S20 range yet - it's rumoured to be coming in the form of the Galaxy S20 FE - there is a Note 10 Lite

We'd expect a cheaper model of the Galaxy Z Fold to either be called the Galaxy Z Fold e or the Galaxy Z Fold Lite, though we'd put our money on the latter given the last few 'cheaper' flagship smartphone models to launch carried the Lite branding. It might also be called Galaxy Z Fold 2 e or Galaxy Z Fold 2 Lite. There's nothing concrete in rumours for now however so it currently remains a guessing game.

Release date and price

  • 2021
  • Around $1000

There was originally some talk that the Galaxy Z Fold Lite would be revealed alongside the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Note 20 at the 5 August Galaxy Unpacked event but it was then reported prior to the event that Samsung had postponed the cheaper folding device to 2021.

At the moment, there is no talk on when in 2021 a cheaper model of the Galaxy Fold might appear but as rumours have already started circulating about it, around the time of the Galaxy S21 or Galaxy S30 launch might not be too unreasonable a suggestion. If this is the case, we can expect something around the beginning of March - which would be two years since the original Galaxy Fold was first revealed.

In terms of price, $900 and $1100 have both been rumoured. As the Galaxy Fold launched for just under $2000, this would make the Fold Lite quite tempting for many interested in foldables but not wanting to pay the high price tags associated with them. 

Design

  • Glass and aluminium
  • No external display, or smaller external display
  • Vertical folding mechanism

There have been some suggestions that a cheaper Galaxy Fold would sacrifice the external display in order to reduce costs. The hinge would likely be the same as the Galaxy Z Fold 2 as that, and the flexible display, aren't really areas where corners could be cut, but that does mean compromises would have to be made elsewhere to shave $1000 off the price tag of the original.

Given the rumours talk about the Galaxy Fold Lite, we'd expect a vertical fold rather than horizontal fold like the Galaxy Z Flip. We'd also expect a solid build quality - likely a combination of glass and aluminium - and it woudn't be too surprising to see a punch hole camera - maybe just one inside if there is no external display though.

A Samsung patent discovered by LetsGoDigital sees a foldable device with a slim notification panel stretching the height of the device on the front. This could suggest that the Fold Lite might have a small display on the front just for notifications so you don't have to open the device up to see what is going on. The same patent suggests waterproofing, but we doubt that would come to a Lite model, especially given it's not on the more premium Z Fold 2.

Display

  • Around 7.5-inch internal display
  • UTG or plastic
  • AMOLED panel likely

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 has a 7.6-inch internal display that features UTG like the Galaxy Z Flip, while the original Galaxy Fold has a 7.2-inch display with a plastic covering.

It's not currently clear if the Galaxy Z Fold Lite would offer the same internal display as the Fold or Z Fold 2, though given the Fold's issues, we'd hope Samsung opts for the UTG option. There has been the suggestion of no UTG however. 

Externally, the Galaxy Fold has a 4.6-inch display, while the Galaxy Z Fold 2 has a 6.3-inch display. It could be that the Galaxy Fold Lite offers no external display at all, or perhaps it will offer the notification panel like the patent suggests.

Hardware and specs

  • Perhaps Qualcomm SD765
  • 256GB storage reported
  • 5G?

It is the hardware that we think is likely to take the biggest hit compared to the Galaxy Fold or Galaxy Z Fold 2. As we expect Samsung to deliver a Fold Lite with the same hinge mechanism as the Galaxy Z Fold 2 - or certainly very similar - we suspect it will be the processor, RAM, storage and battery elements that may take the cut in order to keep costs down.

Of course, this is all speculation for now, but it wouldn't be too surprising to see the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 chipset on board instead of the flagship Snapdragon 865 for example - though this has been reported too - and we don't expect 12GB of RAM like the original Fold either. Storage has been reported as 256GB. If the SD765 is used though, the Fold Lite would be 5G as this processor has 5G integrated.

Contrary to what we think though, Max Weinbach tweeted suggesting the Z Fold Lite would have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 but with no 5G support and another rumour also mentioned 4G only. Weinbach did say things could change though.

Cameras

  • Triple rear suggested by patent
  • Dual selfie 

Another area that may take a small hit is the camera department. The patent spotted by LetsGoDigital suggests a triple rear camera with a square third lens, suggesting a periscope zoom lens. There's also two selfie cameras on the front in the patent. There is nothing to suggest the patent is for the Galaxy Z Fold Lite however.

In terms of cameras, it wouldn't be too surprising to see the Galaxy Note 20 system on board. We suspect the Note 20 Ultra's make up would increase costs too much, but you never know. When more rumours appear surrouding the Galaxy Fold Lite's camera composition, we will be sure to include it here. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold Lite rumours: What's happened so far? 

Here are all the rumours surrounding the Galaxy Z Fold Lite we have heard so far.

6 September 2020: Galaxy Fold Lite model number turns out to be mid-range device instead

Sammobile reported that the model number claimed to be associated with the Galaxy Fold Lite - SM-F415F - is in fact not for that device, and not even a foldable. Instead, the model number is said to be for the Galaxy M31 that launched in India earlier in 2020.

31 August 2020: Galaxy Fold Lite model number might have appeared on Samsung India

Rumours have claimed the Samsung Galaxy Fold Lite would have the model number SM-F415F, which has been spotted on the support pages of Samsung India. No further details were offered about the device though.

28 June 2020: Galaxy Z Fold Lite expected in 2021, for under $900

Sammobile said that a report out of South Korea has suggested the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold Lite was due to be announced on 5 August alongside the Galaxy Z Fold 2, but it has been delayed until 2021 and it will cost 1 million won - which would be under $900 or £700.

25 May 2020: Patent appears for waterproof folding device with smaller display

LetsGoDigital published some renders based on a Samsung patent that shows a folding device with a small notification panel on the front. 

13 May 2020: More Galaxy Fold Lite specs appear on Twitter

Twitter user @showmetechbru listed a few specs he claims will come to the Galaxy Fold Lite, along with some images.

12 May 2020: Galaxy Fold Lite could run on Snapdragon 865 but not offer 5G

Max Weinbach followed up a tweet saying the Galaxy Fold Lite would be built from aluminium and glass, feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor but not offer 5G. 

11 May 2020: Several new Galaxy Folds likely in the works, including cheaper E/Lite model

Leaker Max Weinbach said Samsung was rumoured to announce a Galaxy fold e, which would cost $1100. He also said the company was working on three foldables, two with plastic displays and one with ultra-thin glass. 

Writing by Britta O'Boyle.