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When Samsung Electronics unveiled its first flexible display prototype in 2011, few realized they had a glimpse of the future of the mobile industry. Now, a decade later, Samsung shipped 4 times more foldable devices in 2021 than in 2020, exceeding three times the market growth analysts expected.
Consumer enthusiasm for Samsung 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 topped total cumulative sales of Samsung foldable devices. in 2020.
As foldable smartphone shipments are expected to increase tenfold by 2023, let’s take a look at the key moments, key innovations and important partnerships that have 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 made its foldable vision a reality 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 improved durability and user experience to foldables. Not only have they set a new standard in the industry, but they have rekindled consumer interest in smartphones in general.
From creating new materials and methods to solving mechanical challenges, the creation of the foldable category has 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 the devices met 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 a continuous piece of glass, the body of a foldable 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 kinks, a Hideaway hinge mechanism was designed with Sweeper technology to help keep dust and dirt particles out. The hinge also added a new layer of functionality to the Samsung foldables, allowing them to stand upright, making them perfect for watching content, making video calls, or taking hands-free selfies.
Samsung’s commitment to creating new foldable innovations took it to 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.