Samsung says folding phone shipments reached nearly 10 million last year

Samsung is gearing up the hype machine for the release of its next foldables once again, and ahead of the next Unpacked event on August 10th, mobile president TM Roh has published another blog post making the case that the time for foldables is now — and that more people are picking up foldable phones.

“Three years ago, Galaxy foldables could be summed up in a single word: radical,” Roh wrote. “Very quickly, however, it became clear that this groundbreaking, flexible design fit perfectly into modern lifestyles. As a result, what was once a novelty three years ago is now the preferred choice for millions.”

In the post, Roh says that the industry shipped almost 10 million foldable smartphones worldwide in 2021, a figure that was up 300 percent from 2020. Samsung could be overstating the market a little bit — Ross Young, CEO of DSCC and a widely-cited display tech analyst, shared data with The Verge that says there were 7.9 million foldables shipped, while IDC says there were 7.1 million foldables shipped. Whatever the number is, it would represent just a fraction of the smartphone market; according to IDC, Samsung alone shipped 272 million smartphones just in 2021.

But Ross also shared data that suggests Samsung overwhelmingly has the lead in the foldable market. Samsung led by a mile in 2021 with 87.8 percent of phones shipped, according to DSCC, while Huawei came in a distant second at 9.3 percent. The bottom three on DSCC’s list had just a tiny share of shipments: Xiaomi had 2.4 percent, Royole had 0.3 percent, while Oppo had 0.2 percent. And with foldable shipments estimated to reach 27.6 million in 2025, per IDC, Samsung is going to want to capture as much of that potential market as it can.

This is all to say that it makes sense why Samsung is beginning to roll out the red carpet for its next Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip models, even if they aren’t expected to look much different from last year’s: the company practically is the foldable market right now, and it wants to take that lead even further. Apple is reportedly exploring foldable concepts, but with any sort of release apparently at least a year away — or maybe more — Samsung’s upcoming Unpacked event is yet another opportunity for the company to keep its foot on the gas.