Samsung just shared an unexpected foldable phone milestone

Foldable phones may still be controversial, but that doesn't seem to be hurting sales, with Samsung announcing a big milestone for the latest Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3 even before they arrive in stores. Preorders for the two new Android devices began 10 days ago, but Samsung says they've already blasted through a 2021 sales record.

In fact, Samsung says, preorders for the Fold 3 and Flip 3 – priced from $1,999 and $999 respectively – have now exceeded total global Samsung foldables sales so far in 2021. It's apparently the strongest preorder phase for a Samsung foldable launch that the company has seen.

It's worth noting that Samsung isn't actually talking specifics, and has been tight-lipped overall on sales numbers for foldable phones so far. The company declined to share any actual details on how many devices like the Galaxy Z Fold 2 or Galaxy Z Flip 5G it had sold in the eight months of 2021 we've seen so far. Similarly, it won't be drawn on how many preorders have been taken of the new devices.

Still, it's hard not to see the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the Galaxy Z Flip 3 as being the first legitimate push of foldables into the mainstream. The Flip 3, for example, is priced alongside a Galaxy S21+ and has broadly the same specifications. That helps make the clamshell form-factor just another design decision for buyers, rather than something which comes with a specific set of compromises.

As for the Galaxy Z Fold 3, that's obviously more expensive than most Android devices out there. Still, with the addition of S Pen support – and the fact that Samsung won't have a new Galaxy Note later in 2021 – it's a more functional device overall, and the company is getting better at communicating just why you might want a phone that opens out into a tablet.

That message has arguably turned out to be as much of a key challenge as convincing people that a flexible AMOLED panel is sturdy enough to last. The "why?" question is one that has come up since Samsung first started showing off foldable prototypes, even if others have been quick to embrace the concept of a compact phone that unfolds into something larger.

In terms of what demand might mean for availability, meanwhile, Samsung is cautioning that some devices might not be as readily available as you might expect on Friday, August 27 when they're scheduled to land in stores. Some supplies of the foldables are limited, the company says, describing the shipping estimates for preorders as "fluid" now.

Adding to the appeal is a new perk Samsung is including in its Z Premier Benefit program. Those who preorder a new Galaxy Z Series device – i.e. either a Flip 3 or a Fold 3 – will get a 12 month membership to CLEAR, the service which helps skip the TSA line at airports.