Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip is selling like hotcakes, unlike the Galaxy S20 series

Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip is selling like hotcakes, unlike the Galaxy S20 series
We'll be honest with you, we had a pretty hard time believing that rumor from a few months back of an earlier release for Samsung's then-unnamed second foldable device than the company's "mainstream" new high-end lineup, which still used to go by the Galaxy S11 moniker at that point.

But here we are, waiting for the Galaxy S20 family to be (widely) released on Friday while plenty of early Z Flip adopters have had a chance to play around with the modernized flip phone for over two weeks already. Of course, the only way Samsung could pull that off was by putting a limited number of units on sale initially, refreshing its inventory a couple of times in key markets like the US since February 14. 

Although the Galaxy Z Flip is certainly not perfect and can hardly be deemed affordable either, its form factor and vastly improved build quality compared to last year's experimental Galaxy Fold appear to have driven unexpectedly high demand. As such, Samsung is reportedly looking to ramp up production, anticipating much stronger 2020 sales than originally projected.

How high can the Galaxy Z Flip go?

No, the Galaxy Fold did not reach one million unit sales after all those display issues that caused so much uncertainty and more delays than we can count, but the Galaxy Z Flip seems essentially guaranteed to achieve the milestone with relative ease. It's not a question of if but when, and the answer might be "sooner than you think."

According to unnamed "industry sources" cited by Digitimes, the vertically folding handset is predicted to reach 100,000 unit shipments in Korea alone... by the end of March. That will make a crucial contribution to a global tally of around 500,000 units that could then jump to anywhere between 2 and 2.5 million through the end of the year.

Believe it or not, that's actually a pretty conservative target, with a "best-case scenario" calling for overall worldwide shipments going as high as 5 million units in 2020 if Samsung can "rekindle its smartphone sales in China", where Huawei is by far the number one vendor. But while the Galaxy Z Flip is significantly cheaper than the Mate X and Mate Xs, that rekindling task will be made mighty hard by the coronavirus epidemic, as well as Samsung's very limited retail presence in the region.

Elsewhere, it's important to point out that the company impressively managed to sell out of its initial Z Flip batch across markets as diverse as the US, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Russia, Singapore, France, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates.

Samsung can't keep up with rampant demand

Even though the Galaxy Z Flip is technically back in stock stateside, the company's official website is listing a fairly distant March 27 delivery date for new orders of unlocked variants. The same thing is also happening in a bunch of other countries, and as hard as Samsung might be trying to ramp up production, catching up with global demand will probably take time.

A lot of time, as foldable display and foldable smartphone manufacturing remains far trickier than building conventional screens and handsets in the required numbers to avoid shortages. Ironically, the unexpected popularity of the Galaxy Z Flip comes on the heels of disappointing launch day Galaxy S20 sales in Korea, which strongly suggests that latter phenomenon doesn't have as much to do with the coronavirus outbreak as analysts assumed.

Of course, it's not entirely fair to compare Z Flip and S20 series demand, as the world's top smartphone manufacturer expected the latter to sell in substantially higher numbers, preparing accordingly. 

But foldable devices are clearly the industry's future, and to its credit, Samsung is reportedly trying everything to bring that future a little closer. That includes working on a true sequel to the Galaxy Fold and looking to quadruple (!!!) the current production capacity of its foldable display unit. We're talking a goal of increasing the 260,000 such screens being manufactured every month right now to 600,000 by the end of May and a full million a month before 2020 wraps up.

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