Samsung Electronics began selling the Galaxy Fold Foldable Phone in China on Friday, competing in the emerging foldable phone market there with Chinese rival Huawei that will launch its Mate X next week.

By Jun Ji-hye

Samsung’s first foldable device went on sale at 10 a.m. at the firm’s online and offline flagship stores.

“Only the fourth-generation, or LTE (long-term evolution), model is currently being sold,” a Samsung Electronics official said.

China is the 24th country where the Galaxy Fold Foldable has been released, after Korea, Germany, the United Kingdom and France.

Samsung has been enjoying a better-than-expected response from consumers worldwide as the device delivers a new user experience with a big foldable screen.

About 20,000 devices are reportedly in the first batch to be sold in China.

Industry officials said this is highly likely to be sold out soon as the Galaxy Fold is the first foldable smartphone available in China.

The Chinese tech giant is set to roll out its foldable Mate X in China next Friday.

While the Galaxy Fold features an in-folding display to reveal a larger screen, the Mate X has an out-folding design.

Huawei failed to launch the Mate X in overseas markets as it could not install Google services or apps, such as Google Maps, Gmail, Chrome and the Google Play Store, due to U.S. sanctions amid the ongoing trade war between the United States and China.

The means the foldable phone race between Samsung and Huawei will take place only in China.

Samsung Electronics has been struggling to boost its smartphone market share in China, which has fallen below 1 percent.

The business had prospered until around 2013, with about a 20 percent market share. But the figure dropped sharply recently due to the rise of Chinese manufacturers Huawei and Xiaomi.

According to market tracker Strategy Analytics, Samsung only had a 0.7 percent share in the Chinese market in the second quarter of the year.

By Jun Ji-hye