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SEOUL, Feb. 14 (Yonhap) -- Samsung Electronics Co.'s new foldable smartphone hit the shelves in South Korea on Friday as the world's largest smartphone maker aims to popularize the foldable form factor in the market.
Sales of the Galaxy Z Flip started at 9 a.m. at local online and offline stores, according to Samsung and local mobile carriers.
Industry insiders expect 20,000 Galaxy Z Flip smartphones to be distributed to local vendors in the first week -- a nearly 10-fold increase from the initial volume of the Galaxy Fold, Samsung's first foldable smartphone, launched last year.
Due to limited volume, they predicted that not all retailers in South Korea will have the Galaxy Z Flip in stock, but customers are not likely to wait long as they did it for the Galaxy Fold.
Some local retailers reported that their first batches of the phones sold out in the morning.
LG Uplus Corp., South Korea's third largest mobile carrier, said initial volume of the Galaxy Z Flip stocked on its online mall sold out just 30 minutes after going on sale.
Local mobile carriers are rolling out various promotions to boost sales of the Galaxy Z Flip.
SK Telecom Co., South Korea's No. 1 carrier, said all its customers who bought Galaxy Z Flip will get special cases for the phone, while KT Corp. said it is offering a premier customer care service.
LG Uplus said it will release new phone care and insurance programs for the Galaxy Z on Feb. 20.
The three mobile carriers said they are offering subsidies of up to 210,000 won (US$177) for the Galaxy Z Flip.
Samsung hopes the Galaxy Z Flip will attract more customers who are interested in foldable smartphones.
The Galaxy Z Flip, which bends in half vertically, is priced at 1.65 million won (US$1,395) in South Korea, roughly 700,000 won cheaper than the Galaxy Fold's launch price.
A limited edition of the Galaxy Z Flip, in collaboration with U.S. fashion brand Thom Browne, comes with a price tag of 2.97 million won. It will be launched next Friday.
Local analysts predicted that Samsung may sell 3 million units of the Galaxy Z Flip globally this year.
The Galaxy Z Flip uses the industry's first ultrathin glass cover on top of the OLED screen, making it more durable and scratch resistant compared with plastic displays.
It comes with a 6.7-inch foldable main display and a 1.1-inch cover display on the front of the handset that allows users to check the time and notifications.