Big Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3 preorders — foldables could finally be going mainstream

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Galaxy Z Fold 3
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

People are ready for a new type of phone, that is if current pre-order numbers the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 are as positive as Samsung says.

According to a report from The Korea Herald, unnamed industry sources claim that both foldable handsets have already attracted 450,000 pre-orders. Estimates predict total pre-orders to hit 800,000 before the phones launch on August 27. 

For context, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 only locked in a respectable, but far more modest, 80,000 in pre-orders in Korea when it launched last September. Samsung itself has weighed in on the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 pre-order activity, and it looks very positive indeed.

"We are thankful for the great customer response to our new Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3. Interest in foldable smartphones is at an all-time high, with pre-order volume for Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 already outpacing total sales for Galaxy Z devices to date in 2021," said a Samsung representative in an emailed statement to the press. "We’re committed to providing the most innovative experiences to our consumers."

Samsung did not share U.S. or European pre-order numbers. But if the pre-order numbers are truly outpacing sales for the Galaxy Z Fold 2, Galaxy Z Flip 5G and original Galaxy Z Flip, perhaps foldables are finally turning a corner. 

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 in particular looks a lot like a Galaxy S21 that folds in half at the same price of other premium smartphones.

Avi Greengart, Techsponential

"Samsung has been iterating on foldables for three generations, and the new Z Flip and Fold promise better durability, fewer compromises and lower prices," said Avi Greengart, founder of Techsponential. "The Galaxy Z Flip 3 in particular looks a lot like a Galaxy S21 that folds in half at the same price of other premium smartphones. Samsung is steadily making folding mechanisms a feature rather than a gimmick."

It's unclear why interest for the Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 is higher now than last year, but the lower prices are likely helping. Reviews for the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Galaxy Z Flip were more apprehensive, cautioning buyers of fragility. The respective $1,999 and $1,380 price points likely didn't help either.

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 starts at just $999, while the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a more reasonable (but still pricey) $1,799. And the addition of IPX8 water resistance to both phones certainly doesn't hurt.

"I’ve been using the new phones for nearly two weeks now, and while previous versions were versatile (Fold) or delightfully compact (Flip) the ability to use it in the rain is greatly reassuring," said Greengart.

Best incentives for foldables yet

It seems that better economic prospects and positive reviews were enough for buyers to commit to Samsung's latest foldable attempt. It also helps that Samsung continues to offer generous trade-in incentives, letting buyers barter up to four devices to get $800 off on a Z Fold 3. 

Carriers like T-Mobile and AT&T were also offering generous trade-in incentives, up to $1,000 on certain handsets. We were actually able to save $850 on a Z Fold 3 purchase thanks to this pre-order trick

It's not just older Z devices that the upcoming foldables are outperforming, but this year's S devices as well. According to the Korea Herald, pre-orders for the Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 are double that of the Samsung Galaxy S21 and 1.5 times that of the Galaxy Note 20

This isn't too unsurprising as Samsung's 2021 flagships have fallen short of sales expectations, being 47% down when compared to the Galaxy S10 series. Per Michael Allison over at Digital Trends, this is an issue that's not just problematic for Samsung, but the entire Android ecosystem. Essentially, mid-range Android devices offer enough of what consumers want that there's not much a desire to spend the $300-500 more for a flagship. And, of course, there's increasing domination from Apple, which hoists itself up as an aspirational brand.

According to The Korea Herald, while the lower prices of the Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3, at $1,799 and $999 respectively, have likely helped the surge in pre-orders, so too has interest from younger consumers. In Korea, 49% of pre-orders for the Z Fold 3 were from customers ages 20-30. The percentage was even higher for the Z Flip 3 at 57%. 

This could suggest that the current crop of glass slabs that have dominated since the release of the iPhone in 2007 are losing some charm. Those that have grown alongside the Galaxy S line had been looking for something different, and the Z series provided enough of a wow factor for many to take the plunge.

For those still interested, Samsung will continue to offer trade-in incentives up through midnight, Eastern time, on Thursday, August 26. According to Samsung, shipping timelines are fluid, so it's best to pre-order earlier rather than later. Buyers will also earn a $200 credit with Z Fold 3 orders, and $150 for Z Flip 3. This incentive is not limited to those who pre-order on Samsung's website, but those that buy from carriers as well. Other Galaxy Z pre-order benefits include a one-year membership to CLEAR, allowing you to skip the line at over 38 airports, six months of obé Fitness, six months of LinkedIn Premium Career, a dessert box from Michelin Guide and more. 

Imad Khan

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.