I can’t even count how many flexible OLED demos I’ve seen at trade shows over the years; foldable phones have been on the horizon for longer than you’d think. Although you probablssssssy haven’t purchased one yet, foldables are now a reality and have been since Samsung unveiled the first Galaxy Fold in 2019. Samsung, which is currently developing its third generation of foldables, reports a 300 percent increase in sales for 2021. Although foldables may not be widely used just yet, the time will come.
Samsung released the current third-gen foldables, the Z Fold3 and Z Flip3, in fall 2021. The Flip3 broke the $1,000 barrier at $999.99, and the Fold3 came in at $1,799.99, both of which were slightly less expensive than the previous models. Both phones offered a number of enhancements over the second-generation foldables, such as water resistance and support for the larger Fold3’s S Pen stylus.
The Z Fold3 and Flip3 fared much better than the earlier models in sales thanks to lower costs and improved features. Samsung declared early on that pre-orders had surpassed all foldable device sales the year before. Samsung now claims to have sold 10 million foldables overall in 2021. That is three times the projected sales for 2020. Seventy percent of those sales were for the Flip3, a more compact clamshell device. Like the old-style flip phones, this phone practically disappears in your pocket. A more specialized device that occupies even more pocket space than the average smartphone is the $1,800 Fold3.
It’s not hard to see why people like foldables — I’ve become quite enamored with them myself. Foldables provide fresh experiences in contrast to the traditional flat glass slab form factor, which is stale and uninteresting. The Fold3 offers the best smartphone multitasking capabilities, and the S Pen makes it ideal for taking notes. The Flip3 has a small external “Cover Display” that makes it simpler to block out distractions, and despite having a large internal OLED, it still manages to fit in the palm of your hand.
It’s a little odd that Samsung is talking about 2021 sales figures halfway through 2022 when it will soon be releasing new fourth-generation foldables (August 10th). Samsung will experience a spike in early-year sales if this year is anything like last one. If you pre-order one of Samsung’s flagships, it offers improved trade-in values on older phones, and it even permits trade-ins of multiple devices to help offset the high price of foldables. Samsung’s intended pricing is still unknown, but if it can keep bringing the price down, foldables may become more widely used. The turning point might be the anticipated mid-range foldable for 2024.