In a nutshell: Remember when foldable phones were the target of so much mockery? Despite their disastrous debut in 2019, the form factor has proven very popular since the arrival of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3. Samsung says that it sold more foldables during the devices' first month alone than the entire previous year.
Foldable phones were still eyed with suspicion when the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 arrived. The designs have certainly improved since the original Galaxy Fold, which saw its launch delayed by months after early review units started breaking within days, but the latest devices' respective $1,800 and $999 prices ask a lot of faith from consumers---despite being cheaper than previous versions.
It seems Samsung has nothing to fear. The company says that combined sales of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 in their first month exceeded those of all its foldable devices in 2020.
Interestingly, more people who switched from a non-Samsung phone to one of the Korean firm's devices opted for a Galaxy Z Flip 3 than the Galaxy S21 Flagship.
Earlier this month, Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) reported that shipments of foldable smartphones in the third quarter of 2021 were larger than the previous four quarters combined, growing 215% quarter-over-quarter to 2.6 million units and 480% year-over-year.
With public figures such as YouTube star Linus Sebastian using the Galaxy Z Fold 3, more people are embracing a style of smartphone many expected to fade from existence due to lack of interest. They'll likely become even more widespread should rumors of Apple releasing its first iPhone flip foldable in 2023 prove accurate.
Smartphone design had been stagnating for years, with each new flagship a slight iteration on its predecessor, which could go some way to explaining foldables' newfound popularity. The fact they're a lot more robust and user-friendly than earlier models also helps. As for the next step in phone evolution, it seems several companies, including Microsoft and Samsung, are considering folding devices with three screens.