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Here’s why Samsung shipped fewer Galaxy S21 phones in 2021

Even though Samsung’s Galaxy A series devices form a large chunk of Samsung’s yearly sales, the company attaches great importance to the shipment figures of its flagship Galaxy S lineup. However, the last two years weren’t great for the Galaxy S series, according to a report by Korean publication The Elec.

Samsung shipped only 20 million to 25 million units of the Samsung Galaxy S21 devices in 2021, the report says. This is roughly the same number that its predecessor — the Samsung Galaxy S20 series — managed to achieve in 2020. While shipping over 20 million smartphones is an impressive feat, things look less spectacular when you realize that Samsung used to ship anywhere between 35 million to 40 million Galaxy S smartphones before the pandemic hit.

This essentially means Samsung’s Galaxy S shipments were down by over 10 million units for the past two years. The report doesn’t say if the shipment figures include numbers from the Galaxy S20 FE, which has, since its September 2020 launch, sold more than 10 million units.

What ails the Galaxy S lineup?

Unsurprisingly, Samsung blames the disappointing shipment numbers of the Galaxy S lineup on the pandemic and the ongoing chip shortage. The company’s large production facilities in Vietnam — which makes a large chunk of its flagship product lineup — had to remain shut for extended periods due to COVID-19-induced lockdowns. To mitigate this, Samsung has already indicated that it intends to offload some of the production from Vietnam to India. These reasons are also likely behind the much-delayed launch of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE.

Samsung's factory in India is also the world's largest mobile factory.
Samsung’s mobile factory in Noida, India, is the world’a largest mobile factory. Samsung

It is also unclear if the cancellation of the Galaxy Note lineup and the arrival of Samsung’s foldable lineup have weaned traditional Galaxy S consumers away from the company. The company’s 2021 foldable lineup has been well-received by consumers and earned positive reviews, and there is a chance that these phones could have grabbed up a good chunk of traditional Galaxy S buyers. Samsung has also been focusing on its bread-and-butter Galaxy A and Galaxy M series smartphones, which drive a lot of volume in emerging markets like India, Russia, and Southeast Asia.

Samsung still shipped over 300 million smartphones in 2021

Even though the Samsung Galaxy S series may have underperformed, the rest of Samsung’s lineup clearly did not suffer the same fate. The company managed to ship an impressive 300 million smartphones in 2021. With the pandemic hopefully waning, Samsung expects to ship even more smartphones in 2022 and has set itself a target of over 334 million shipments this year, the report adds. What remains to be seen is if the Samsung Galaxy S22 lineup manages to hit the pre-pandemic shipment figures of 35 million to 40 million units in 2022.

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Rahul Srinivas
Rahul is a smartphone buff turned tech journalist who has been tinkering with all things mobile since the early 2000s. He has…
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