Samsung kicked off its foldable phone movement with the Galaxy Fold in 2019, and its successors have remained the company's flagship line of bending mobiles - at least judging by marketing, and the excitement of tech fans.
However, it sounds like this preference over the clamshell Galaxy Z Flip line isn't reflected in sales - Samsung has officially confirmed some sales figures for the Galaxy Z line (as the foldable family is collectively known), and they're quite surprising.
According to the company, it sold nearly 10 million foldables in 2021 - bear in mind that the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Galaxy Z Fold 3, the two new devices for the year, only landed in August. With that release date in mind, the sales figures are all the more surprising.
What's more startling is that 70% of those sales were for members of the Flip line, not the Fold one - apparently, customers have shown an overwhelming preference for the smaller clamshell devices, instead of the larger tablet-like ones.
The Z Flip devices are admittedly more affordable than their Z Fold counterparts, but that benefit was likely offset by the fact that the range had seen fewer updates (while both the Z Flip 5G and Z Fold 2 came out towards the end of 2020, the former was simply a 5G version of an existing phone, while the latter was a much bigger upgrade).
Clearly, despite initially seeming like an underdog compared to the Z Fold 3, the Z Flip 3 has proven the more successful smartphone. And that could mean great things for the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.
Not the Z Flip 4?
The new Z Fold phone is expected to debut alongside the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 on August 10, and given that the new stats show just how popular the two foldables are in comparison to each other, you might think that I'd actually be most excited for the Flip.
However the Fold could stand to benefit from its own lack of popularity.
The 70% of foldable buyers opting for the Z Flip models has sent Samsung a clear message: "we like these phones as they are". Clearly the form factor, feature set and price of the Z Flip 3 and its predecessors worked, and as the saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".
But since Samsung's flagship line of foldables seemingly sold poorly, it seems that the Z Fold was broken - or at least, didn't sell like the company presumably hoped.
Now, roughly three million sales isn't bad, but it's certainly not as great as 7 million. And given how much marketing time and money Samsung puts on the Z Fold line, it likely wants there to be a lot more parity, in terms of sales, between its models.
The solution to this issue? A big Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 upgrade.
A big Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 upgrade
So far, both the Z Fold and Z Flip lines have proven rather iterative, with small tweaks and changes coming in place of larger revamps.
That could change in 2022, and if Samsung brought big upgrades to the Galaxy Z Fold 4, it could easily win over some buyers who want a foldable but don't know which.
Lots of rumors point to the device having greater functionality with the S Pen stylus, perhaps with a slot for it to be stored on the device, and this could make the Z Fold 4 more interesting. But it's not enough.
I'd like to see camera improvements - this device should match the Galaxy S22 Ultra for photography - and definitely improvements to the hinge and crease to make them less noticeable.
I'm not convinced that's enough, though, as those could all still fit into the 'iterative' mold. Samsung's going to have to really think outside the box to make the Z Fold 4 stand out.
But the fact that the company has revealed these stats officially says to me that it's not ashamed of the sales discrepancy, and possibly therefore that it's ready to address the issue. So I'm excited to see what changes the Galaxy Z Fold 4 brings.