Foldable phones have been just around the corner for longer than you’d expect — I can’t even count the number of flexible OLED demos I’ve seen at trade shows over the years. Foldables are a reality now though, and they have been since Samsung released the first Galaxy Fold in 2019, but you probably haven’t bought one yet. Samsung is in its third generation of foldables now, and it says sales increased 300 percent in 2021. Foldables might not be mainstream quite yet, but that day is coming.
Samsung released the current third-gen foldables, the Z Fold3 and Z Flip3, in fall 2021. These devices clocked in a little cheaper than the previous models, with the Fold3 inching downward to $1,799.99 and the Flip3 breaking the thousand-dollar barrier at $999.99. Both phones also offered an array of improvements over the second-gen foldables, including water resistance and S Pen stylus support for the larger Fold3.
With lower prices and better features, the Z Fold3 and Flip3 sold much better than the previous versions. Early on, Samsung announced pre-orders outpaced all the foldable sales the previous year. Now, Samsung says it sold 10 million total foldables in 2021. That’s three times its 2020 sales numbers. Of those sales, 70 percent were for the smaller clamshell-style Flip3. This phone almost disappears in your pocket like the flip phones of old. The $1,800 Fold3 is more of a niche device, which takes up even more pocket space than your average smartphone.
It’s not hard to see why people like foldables — I’ve become quite enamored with them myself. The traditional flat glass slab form factor is stale and uninteresting, and foldables offer new experiences. The Fold3 is the best multitasking experience you’ll get on a smartphone, and the S Pen makes it great for taking notes. The Flip3 with its small external “Cover Display” makes it easier to ignore distractions, and it retains a pocket-friendly size despite having a large internal OLED.
It’s a little strange for Samsung to start talking about 2021 sales figures halfway through 2022, but it’s going to release new fourth-gen foldables in just a few weeks (August 10th). If this year is anything like last, Samsung will see a surge of sales early on. Samsung offers enhanced trade-in values on older phones if you pre-order one of its flagships, and it even allows multiple device trade-ins to defray the high cost of foldables. We don’t know about Samsung’s intended pricing yet, but if it can continue bringing the cost down, foldables could break into the mainstream. The rumored 2024 mid-range foldable could be the tipping point.
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