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Samsung’s foldable shipments near 10 million, and it’s not because of the Z Fold

Samsung’s phones, without a doubt, have carried the flag for innovation in the foldable segment ever since the first Galaxy Fold hit shelves three years ago. According to the company’s mobile division chief, TM Roh, that momentum is going to carry forward in the years to come on the shoulders of impressive sales.

In an official blog post, the Samsung executive notes that the foldable industry as a whole has shipped “almost 10 million” foldable phones in 2021, recording a 300% growth compared to 2020. Another interesting trend is that nearly 70% of foldable Samsung phone shoppers went with the clamshell Flip model, while the rest splurged on the pricey tablet-hybrid Fold lineup.

Samsung executive TM Roh
TM Roh at the Unpacked 2021 event. (Credit: Samsung)

Teasing “new Samsung Galaxy Foldables” making an appearance at the upcoming Unpacked event slated for August 10, Roh also hinted about new phone capabilities that will make the most out of the foldable form factor. It would be interesting to see what Samsung brings to the table this time around, especially from the software functionality perspective, as leaks suggest only a modest iterative update for the next-gen folding phones.

The foldable slate ahead

Samsung’s revelation that 70% of foldable phone buyers have gone with the Flip model is intriguing, but not entirely surprising. The clamshell foldables are drastically cheaper without making any noticeable concessions in terms of raw firepower. Plus, the flip phone nostalgia, complemented by a pleasantly pocketable form factor and splashy colors, makes them more attractive.

Alleged renders of Galaxy Z Flip 4.
Leaked renders of the Galaxy Z Flip 4. (Credit: OnLeaks/91Mobiles)

Take, for example, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and its Bespoke Edition, which earned praise for its foldable novelty, solid build quality, reliable performance, and standout looks. If the leaks are anything to go by, the upcoming Galaxy Z Flip 4 won’t deviate much from the design of its predecessor and will focus more on internal upgrades.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether Samsung retains the same asking price as its predecessor. At $999, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 was a solid deal in itself, and given Samsung’s aggressive foldable strategy, its successor will likely follow in the same footsteps.

Things are going to change with Samsung’s marquee foldable phone this year — the Galaxy Z Fold 4. Leaks suggest a refined design that borrows its looks from the Galaxy S22 Ultra, and a few camera upgrades are also said to be in the pipeline.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 front face
Alleged Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 renders. (Credit: OnLeaks x SmartPrix)

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 will keep things ticking inside, while photography will be handled by an upgraded 50-megapixel primary that has already delivered solid results on the Galaxy S22 lineup. Samsung is reportedly improving the zoom performance as well, courtesy of a 10MP telephoto camera with a 3x zoom output.

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is going to be the premium foldable sibling, showcasing all the innovation that Samsung has to offer. Roh boldly proclaims that “the mainstream moment for foldables is here,” and it’ll be interesting to see what Samsung does to actually make them more accessible.

Update: Edited to clarify that the 10 million number is an estimate for industry-wide foldable shipments — not just Samsung foldables. Samsung clarified this point, saying, “Last year, we saw almost 10 million foldable smartphones shipped worldwide.” This number is an estimate for the industry based on the company’s proprietary sales data.

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