When Samsung Electronics unveiled its first flexible display prototype in 2011, few realized they were witnessing a glimpse of the future of the mobile industry. Now, a decade later, Samsung shipped 4x more foldable devices in 2021 than in 2020, beating the triple market growth analysts expected.
Consumer enthusiasm for Samsung foldables is exemplified by the success of the Galaxy Z series. In the first month since its launch, the Galaxy Z Fold3 and Z Flip3 topped the cumulative total sales of Samsung foldables in 2020.
With foldable phone shipments set to increase tenfold by 2023, let’s take a look at the key moments, key innovations, and important partnerships that helped make foldable devices the next big thing.
Bringing foldables to consumers around the world
Samsung may have first introduced the concept of foldable displays in 2011, but it would take more than a decade to bring foldable devices to consumers around the world.
The next big step came in 2019, when Samsung finally realized its foldable vision with the Galaxy Fold, its first foldable device. Soon after, the Galaxy Z Flip arrived. The sleek clamshell design – a throwback to the flip phones of yore – made the Galaxy Z Flip an instant icon.
After a decade of progress and three generations of innovation, the Galaxy Z Fold3 and Z Flip3 have brought increased durability and improved user experience to foldables. Not only did they set a new standard in the industry, but they revived consumer interest in smartphones in general.
From creating new materials and methods to solving mechanical problems, the creation of the foldable category forced Samsung to reinvent the smartphone from the inside out.
From the start, Samsung engineers understood that the key to creating a new category would be to invent a range of new technologies to ensure that devices would meet the expectations of global consumers.
The Infinity Flex Display and Samsung UTG, for example, enabled the world’s first foldable glass display. While its screen may be one continuous piece of glass, a foldable’s body has two separate components. This unique structure meant that to maintain a design thin enough for everyday use, engineers had to completely rethink the placement of internal components. This challenge included designing a new internal cooling system as well as a dual-battery system with technology that optimizes multiple power sources into one.
To ensure that the devices would be able to withstand hundreds of thousands of bends, a Hideaway Hinge mechanism was designed with Sweeper technology to help keep out dust and dirt particles. The hinge has also added a new layer of functionality to Samsung foldables, allowing them to stand on their own, making them perfect for watching content, making video calls or taking hands-free selfies.
Samsung’s dedication to creating new foldable innovations saw it 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 set Samsung foldables apart 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 Multi-Active Window and Flex Mode, Samsung foldables have unlocked new ways for users to work, play and express themselves.