When Samsung Electronics unveiled its first prototype of a flexible display in 2011, few people realized they were seeing a glimpse into the future of the mobile industry. Now, a decade later, Samsung shipped 4 times more foldable devices in 2021 than in 2020, outstripping the market’s triple growth that analysts had expected.1
Consumer enthusiasm for Samsung’s foldable devices is exemplified by the success of the Galaxy Z series. In the first month since launch, the Galaxy Z Fold3 and Z Flip3 surpassed the cumulative sales of Samsung’s foldable devices in 2020.
With foldable smartphone shipments expected to grow tenfold by 2023,2 Let’s take a look at the key moments, key innovations, and important partnerships that helped make foldable devices the next big thing.
Bringing foldable devices to consumers around the world
Samsung may have first introduced the concept of foldable screens in 2011, but it would take more than a decade to bring foldable devices to consumers around the world.
The next major breakthrough came in 2019, when Samsung finally brought its foldable vision to reality with the Galaxy Fold, its first foldable device. Soon after came the Galaxy Z Flip. Sleek clamshell design – a throwback to old phones – has made the Galaxy Z Flip an instant icon.
After a decade of advancement and three generations of innovation, the Galaxy Z Fold3 and Z Flip3 have brought improved durability and an enhanced user experience to foldable devices. Not only have they set a new standard in the industry, but they have revived consumer interest in smartphones in general.
innovations behind technology
From creating new materials and methods to overcoming mechanical challenges, the creation of the foldable category required Samsung to reimagine the smartphone from the inside out.
From the start, Samsung engineers realized that the key to creating a new category was inventing a range of new technologies to ensure the devices meet the expectations of global consumers.
Infinity Flex screen and Samsung UTG, for exampleAnd Enable the world’s first foldable glass screen. While its screen may be a continuous piece of glass, the foldable body has two distinct components. This unique chassis means that in order to maintain a design slim enough for everyday use, engineers have to completely rethink the placement of internal components. This challenge involved designing a new internal cooling system as well as a dual battery system with technology that optimizes multiple power sources as one.
To ensure the devices can withstand hundreds of thousands of folds, the Hideaway Hinge mechanism is engineered with Sweeper technology to help keep out dust and dirt particles. The hinge also added a new layer of functionality to Samsung’s foldable devices, allowing them to stand on their own, perfect for watching content, making video calls or taking selfies hands-free.
Samsung’s dedication to creating new foldable innovations enabled it to achieve another major milestone in 2021 with the release of the Galaxy Z Fold3 and Z Flip3 – the first foldables to receive an IPX8 water resistance rating.
But the features that distinguish Samsung’s foldable devices aren’t all hidden beneath the surface. With App Continuity — a responsive user interface that provides seamless transitions between folded and unfolded modes — and features like Active Multi Window and Flexible Mode, Samsung foldable devices have opened up new ways for us to work, play and express ourselves.
Increasing consumer demand for foldable devices
This unprecedented push in innovation has fueled demand for foldable devices, drawing more users into the Galaxy family than ever before. Compared to the Galaxy Note20, Samsung saw 150 percent3 An increase in the number of consumers switching smartphone brands to the Galaxy Z Flip3, and a 140 percent increase compared to the Galaxy S21.
A simple explanation for this massive increase is that both Galaxy Z series devices offer distinct features that appeal to specific groups of customers in ways no other smartphone has before.
A survey of buyers conducted by Samsung revealed that stylish design, portability and an innovative foldable form factor were some of the most important factors behind buying the Galaxy Z Flip3. The ability to use the cover screen without unlocking the device was another important factor for those who value privacy, as well as those who wished to organize screen time to manage their mental health. Meanwhile, Galaxy Z Fold3 buyers reported being drawn to its large display for content display, multitasking capabilities and productivity features, including the S Pen.4 At the end of the day, both devices clearly give consumers more incentive than ever to switch to a foldable device, even if it means changing brands or operating systems.
leadership foldable future
As more consumers realize the amazing potential of foldable devices, interest in the category will continue to grow. With a variety of innovations set to make their way to consumers in the coming years, Samsung will continue to lead the foldable category with even more groundbreaking technologies.
To achieve this goal, Samsung invests heavily in research and development while collaborating openly with app developers and industry partners such as Google.
Samsung and Google have been collaborating for years to make the foldable experience scalable by providing Android developers with the necessary framework and resources. In 2021, companies announced guidelines for creating apps for devices with large screens and foldables, building on Google’s work to improve its most popular apps — such as Gmail, YouTube, Duo, and Maps — for foldable form factors. Going forward, Samsung will continue to work with partners and developers to develop technologies that will guide the future of the mobile industry.
Creating an entirely new category of mobile phones a decade ago, Samsung raised the bar for innovation in mobile devices. As it looks to the next decade and beyond, the company will continue to reinvent the mobile experience to transform what’s possible as it emerges.
1 According to numbers from Counterpoint Research
2 According to numbers from Counterpoint Research
3 Samsung big data center
4 Only the Galaxy Z Fold3’s home screen has the ability to use the S Pen. Only compatible with S Pen Fold Edition or S Pen Pro, sold separately.