Samsung made the Galaxy Z Flip 4 special. Smartphones are in need of individuality and limited editions are the way to go.
This is why the recent collaboration between Samsung and Maison Margiela makes so much sense. The king of foldables has joined forces with the king of haute couture to produce a stunning exclusive item.
Granted, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 Maison Margiela Edition is not for everyone. Especially considering its staggering price tag, which surpasses the $2000 mark. However, pricing aside, why does almost every smartphone nowadays try to appeal to every consumer?
We live in a sea of cookie-cutter smartphone designs. To make matters worse, the look of the modern-day handset has had the same aesthetic for the better part of a decade. And not only are smartphones almost invariably just two slabs of glass, with a piece of metal between them – they also often come in the same set of dull colors.
This is, in part, why foldables excite me. They are something new, something daring in an otherwise visually boring market. However, at this point, I am almost convinced that manufacturers are trying to make smartphones as unremarkable as possible. Apparently, there simply is no room for individuality when it comes to our daily drivers.
Why individuality in smartphones matters
The thing is – we spend a disproportionately large amount of time on our smartphones. We wake up with them, we use them for an endless variety of tasks throughout the day and we ultimately go to bed with them. In fact, we spend approximately a third of our waking time on our phones. Thus, if smartphones have come to define our lives, why can’t their designs reflect them?It is truly not that difficult to add some form of meaningful customisation to a smartphone’s design, beyond using a case. Apple is now allowing users to engrave their AirPods on purchase – but the same treatment does not extend to the iPhone. Why?
Most likely, because most tech giants simply do not seem to care about individuality. If hordes are going to be buying your product anyway, why give them customisation options in the first place? Admittedly, the resale value of many heavily customized devices will necessarily be much lower, which could pose a potential problem.
Nevertheless there are much more elegant ways to make a smartphone uniquely yours besides stamping an emoji on its back (hint: special editions). Frankly, it is not all that difficult to allow users to relate to the devices they spend so much of their time with, and Samsung has proven this.
Special Edition Smartphones
For some reason, the Korean tech giant is the only smartphone manufacturer which seems to have embraced limited edition items, especially in South Korea. In the past, we have seen OnePlus and Huawei launching collaborations with Porsche Design and McLaren respectively, but those were mostly one-off occurrences. No one has taken the idea as seriously as Samsung
Regardless of whether the Maison Margiela edition Flip 4 appeals to you, one thing is certain – any fashion junkie worth their salt will be intrigued by it. The only problem is the ostentation price tag. Admittedly, the bundle costs an outrageous amount of money… for a smartphone. But it is also easily one of the least expensive Maison Margiela accessories on sale.
It should be noted that, usually, the limited edition items that Samsung launches are not even all that expensive to begin with. This is one of the reasons why they draw so much attention in South Korea. I personally know many Pokémon fans that have scoured the Internet looking for ways to buy one of the many themed Galaxy products that Samsung has launched.
This is an exceptionally effective way of allowing people some form of personal expression through their smartphones. The average customer is not particularly tech-savvy, and is much more likely to be passionate about something along the lines of Pokémon, than foldables, or the latest Snapdragon SoC.
Hence, a Pokémon-themed Galaxy device has a level of personal value that is simply unmatched by the default Samsung products. Furthermore, the manufacturer stands to gain from this as well. Most of the limited edition bundles that Samsung has launched have sold in a matter of minutes.
This is not least in part because of their “limited” status. Data seems to suggest that customers love the air of exclusivity that comes with a limited edition product. There is something innately appealing in knowing that what you are currently buying will not be easily accessible down the line. For me, this just proves that users are looking for individuality in a market that is becoming more and more homogenous.
Even Apple is now giving users a taste of special editions
Do you know what the biggest drawback of owning an iPhone is? Everybody and their (grand)mother has one. At times, even the most devout of Apple fanatics such as myself have an episode of imposter syndrome. Do I genuinely like this product, or am I simply drinking the Kool-Aid?
In part, this is because of one of the cornerstones of Apple’s design philosophy – minimalism. Apple products have an unmistakable simplistic touch to them. In order to preserve said feel, users are allowed little in the way of customisation.
However, even Apple has recently introduced bolder color options to its iPhone lineup. Granted, the more high-end “Pro” products still follow a noticeably more mute, refined aesthetic – typically in Silver and Space Gray (the iPhone Pro is an exception to that rule).
But even Apple has come to understand that a splash of color can go miles when it comes to personalization. It should be noted, that we have seen the Cupertino company launch exclusive color options that are subsequently dropped from later generations. In a sense, even Apple is playing the limited edition game.
Color is not enough: We need more Pokémon!
Color options are a good starting point, but there is so much more that can be done. There is no shortage of themes and collaborations that can be explored. Of course, many will simply say – put a case on your smartphone if you want to make it your own. This argument is valid, but the two approaches are not mutually exclusive.
I am very much aware that smartphones are, above all, meant to serve a clear purpose in our lives – this is why I am not advocating for manufacturers to play around with smartphone design. The latter should be above all utilitarian, and the choice of what smartphone you buy must be based on objective considerations.
But there is still some room for personal expression. People love feeling special, even when it comes to something as simple as using their smartphones. Limited edition options are the easiest way to allow that.