Foldable smartphones are quickly becoming the most innovative trend in smartphones, with options like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 and Google Pixel Fold. And it appears this trend is here to stay, with shipments expected to rise by more than 50% year-over-year to 19.8 million units in 2023, reports TrendForce.
In its AMOLED Technology and Shipment Tracker report, TrendForce says the overall smartphone market is expected to fall short of the projected 1.2 billion units, due to pressures caused by the global economic downturn and a plateau in software and hardware. But the foldable phone format is breathing new life into the space.
TrendForce estimates that shipments of foldable smartphones will reach 19.8 million units in 2023, marking an impressive YoY growth rate of 55% compared to 12.8 million units last year. The only thing standing in the way of growth is high prices, with foldable phones costing close to or beyond $2,000, the same as a decent computer. But there are new technologies helping to bring down pricing, like OLED organic materials used in OLED panels.
Samsung, the earliest entrant into the foldable smartphone market, maintains its lead over other brands in research and production technologies. It’s rumored that its next-generation Fold/Flip 5 will be unveiled in late July and hit the market in August. The new design is expected to feature a significantly larger cover display, setting it apart from the previous generation. Samsung currently commands around 70% of the overall foldable smartphone market, shipping approximately 13 million units.
Chinese brands like Huawei, OPPO, Vivo, Xiaomi, and Honor have all joined the race for foldable smartphones as well as, most recently, Google with its Pixel Fold. Huawei’s Pocket S, released in 2022, has seen a warm reception in the consumer market, thanks to its appealing design and competitive pricing, despite being equipped with only a 4G processor.
Last year, Huawei’s market share stood at around 10% and is expected to approach 20% this year. Other Chinese brands hold around 3–5% market share in the foldable smartphone sector.
At present, the market is focused on the recently released Google Pixel Fold. Transsion, a company with a longstanding presence in the African market, also introduced its first foldable smartphone, the Phantom V Fold, earlier this year. With an increasing number of brands expected to venture into foldable smartphone production, TrendForce estimates the market penetration of foldable phones to be around 1.7% in 2023. With continuous improvements in cost and design, this figure is expected to surpass 5% by 2027.