PARIS: Despite steadily rising sales, folding handsets currently account for just 1% of smartphone sales worldwide, mainly due to extremely high prices.
This could be set to change in 2024, however, with the launch of some more affordable mid-range models.
The market research firm TrendForce anticipates this trend, stating that Samsung, the market leader, is preparing to market at least one folding phone as soon as 2024, at a more affordable price than the current Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip. Huawei is set to follow suit in the Asian market.
This broader offer, accompanied by lower prices, could finally help boost this market segment – which is still relatively exclusive, but appeals greatly to the younger generation – helping it to take off more broadly among consumers.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Z Flip5 are currently priced from €1,899 and €1,199 respectively, excluding promotions. Prices will need to go well below the symbolic €1,000 mark to convince the public at large to adopt this technology.
And price doesn’t appear to be the only factor. Motorola is offering its Razr 40 for €899, but this model has so far only met with limited success.
The smartphone market is now saturated, with sales declining slightly over the past two years. Only the folding phone segment is currently posting rising sales figures, but it is still small, with 14.2 million units sold worldwide in 2022, according to figures from Canalys, out of a total of nearly 1.2 billion smartphones sold over the same period.
The vast majority of these will be Samsung models, available almost everywhere in the world, unlike the Chinese models sold mainly in China.
Generally speaking, the range of folding models is likely to diversify. In the second half of 2023, a dozen such models were released by all manufacturers, mainly in China. In the future, a possible arrival of Apple in this market would inevitably boost sales, but no information on this subject has so far leaked from the firm’s Cupertino offices.
According to TrendForce, more than 18 million folding smartphones will be sold this year, and over 25 million in 2024, for a market share of over 2%.
By 2027, 70 million units could be shipped in a year, representing around 1 in every 20 smartphones sold worldwide. Canalys, for its part, does not foresee any significant increase in sales for several years.
Note that 2024 could also bring the first triple-screen smartphones, a new niche market within the niche.