Samsung says folding phones are now mainstream

But does a tiny share of all smartphones shipped last year show folding phones have really broken through?
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G

Samsung says nearly 10 million foldable smartphones were sold in 2021, which means the novel form factor is now here for good.

Reaching the 10 million folding-phones milestone, Samsung has declared the "mainstream moment for foldable smartphones is here" for the category the company says was viewed as "radical" three years ago. 

Samsung's Galaxy Fold and Flip are the most widely known foldables phones.

"Last year, we saw almost 10 million foldable smartphones shipped worldwide," said Dr. TM Roh, president and head of Samsung's 'MX' or Mobile eXperience Business in a blogpost.  

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"That's an industry increase of more than 300% from 2020, and I predict this fast-paced growth will continue. We are reaching the moment where these foldable devices are becoming widespread and staking a bigger claim in the overall smartphone market," he continued. 

That figure would presumably include foldable devices like the Oppo Find N and Honor Magic V and possibly the Motorola Razr, as well as the Flip and Fold, each with their own take on the foldable concept.  

Samsung declared foldables mainstream ahead of its August 10 Unpacked event where it's flagged that folding devices are taking centre stage.

Samsung says 70% of Galaxy foldable buyers picked the Flip – the cheaper but still pricey 2020 follow up to Samsung's first foldable, the $1,980 fragile-screen Fold. The 2021 Galaxy X Flip 3 became a more realistic option priced at $999.99.   

The remaining 30% bought a Galaxy Fold, according to Samsung. Roh calls the Fold the "ultimate productivity device" for its multitasking on a larger screen, while Flip customers liked its Flex mode for easy selfies. 

"Three years ago, Galaxy foldables could be summed up in a single word: radical. Very quickly, however, it became clear that this groundbreaking, flexible design fit perfectly into modern lifestyles. As a result, what was once a novelty three years ago, is now the preferred choice for millions," said Roh. 

Samsung launched the the Fold at an interesting juncture in its smartphone history. In 2018, its Galaxy S line wasn't selling as well as in the past. That year Samsung announced it would pack more new tech into its mid-range Galaxy A-series phones rather than only its top Galaxy S phones. This can be seen in last year's last year's Galaxy A-series phones, which have been popular in Europe. 

While 10 million foldables sold in one year is a milestone, it's still a drop in the ocean compared to the 1.39 billion smartphones that shipped last year. That's 0.7% share of all smartphones shipped in 2021 and would be a tiny sliver of Samsung's overall 20% share of smartphone shipments

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