Samsung may see more foldable competition in 2021 — thanks to Samsung?

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung is the unquestioned leader in the foldable smartphone realm despite the fairly disastrous launch of the original Galaxy Fold. Fortunately, the Galaxy Z Flip and the Galaxy Z Fold 2 went a long way to wiping out that memory.

This success is in no small part due to the display technology used in these foldables, which to date has been exclusive to Samsung. But according to a report from ETNews that is due to change in 2021 (via Ars Technica). 

This has been an unusual situation for Samsung, traditionally Samsung Display will take bids and sell its displays to whoever is in the market. Companies like OnePlus and Apple rely on Samsung for displays and at times even manage superior offerings to the then-current Samsung Galaxy flagships. 

Foldable displays were treated differently, likely due to the heavy upfront cost with Samsung claiming to have sunk six years and over $130 million into the technology as well as limited yields for the displays. While that exclusivity has allowed Samsung to cement itself as the go-to name in foldables, it is considerably more profitable for Samsung Display to follow its standard practice of selling to all interested parties. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G folded in a pocket

(Image credit: Future)

Now to be clear, Samsung is still taking the lion's share of the foldable displays, the report suggests that Samsung Display will be selling roughly 10 million panels to Samsung's phone division and only 1 million to outside manufacturers. However, considering the current size of the foldable market that is still a significant shift.

Traditional form factors like we see on the iPhone 12 and Galaxy S21 are sure to dominate for years to come. However, the rise of new form factors with foldables and soon rollables is exciting to see in what had become a fairly stagnant market in terms of design. 

Looking at other interesting concepts that we saw last year like the LG Wing and the Surface Duo, I can't wait to see more manufacturers explore what is possible with foldables even if they have to use Samsung's displays to do it.

Sean Riley

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.