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  • Lawrence Ng

Foldable Phone Market Rapid Growth Credited to Samsung's Z Fold and Z Flip Phones

Samsung may have increased the chances of a foldable phone fad with its Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3 foldable smartphones.

Credit: Samsung

Telecom market intelligence firm International Data Corporation (IDC) recently reported that 7.1 million foldable phone units were shipped in 2021, marking an increase of 264.3% over the 1.9 million units shipped in 2020. The firm also predicted that foldable phone shipments will continue to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 69.9% until 2025, leading to 27.6 million units shipped until then.

IDC credits the significant rise to the success of Samsung's foldable phones, with the Korean tech giant's Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 leading the charge with what may be a combined estimated amount of 9 million units sold worldwide. The Flip 3, in particular, was said to be popular with consumers due to its compact folding size, larger second display, and its US$999 price tag. While Samsung's Fold 3 saw improvements to its software, size, weight, durability and price, it was still considered more expensive than the Flip 3 and more of a niche product in general.

Anthony Scarsella, IDC's research manager for its Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said that Samsung's foldable phones proved that there is a demand for such phones once they have "the right price and a more stable build".

"We have already witnessed other vendors launching new foldables this year," Scarsella said, "and we expect more players to attempt to take share away from Samsung as the form factor grows in popularity."

Credit: Samsung

However, foldable smartphones replacing phones and tablets in businesses and everyday use may still be a distant dream. Nabila Popal, IDC's research director for its Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said that while foldable phones make up a third of the premium Android market, they still did not acquire a significant share of the market even with 71 million devices shipped in 2021. He also added that while the importance of foldable is "no longer in question to any brand that wants a share of the premium Android space, what is interesting to vendors now is the battle between the Flip and Fold form factors."

Additionally, the IDC's report says that vendors see foldable smartphones as a major opportunity due to such phones representing "the most innovative visual change to happen to smartphones" - something they can't ignore. The commercial segment sees foldable phones as a replacement for both a phone and a tablet, with the IDC saying that vendors have made "enticing offers" on the latest lineup of foldable smartphones targetting business users.

Meanwhile, Samsung may be revealing a few new devices at the upcoming Mobile World Congress on 27 February 2022. In Samsung's open invitation, it has a video featuring a few silhouettes of Samsung's recently released products like the Flip 3, Galaxy S22 Ultra, a laptop, tablet and a watch.

Although these silhouettes could mean Samsung may feature devices from its other product lines, the inclusion of the Flip 3, a foldable phone, may mean that a foldable, possibly even a few of the foldable concepts it featured in CES 2022, may be revealed in the upcoming MWC.

  • Telecom market intelligence firm International Data Corporation released a report stating that foldable phone shipments would continue to increase and would reach 27.6 million units shipped in 2025.

  • The increase was credited to the success of Samsung's foldable phones: The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.

  • IDC expects that more foldable phones would be released in the future as companies struggle to take market share away from Samsung.

  • Samsung might be revealing a new foldable device, possibly one of the foldable concepts it featured during CES 2022, at the upcoming Mobile World Congress on 27 February 2022.

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