[News] The Next Battlefield for High-End Flagship Phones? Huawei Rumored to Unveil Z-Fold Phone This Year

“Foldable Phones” have emerged as the new epitome of high-end flagship smartphones. However, whether it’s in the form of vertical or horizontal folding, it may no longer meet the needs of some users.

Recently, industry sources cited by TechNews has suggested that Chinese smartphone brand Huawei is planning to launch a triple-fold foldable phone this year. This move is expected to make smartphones unfolded more akin to the size and functionality of tablet computers.

As for the folding form, it might be in a Z-shaped (or S-shaped) manner. The screen size after folding would be similar to that of a regular smartphone, approximately 6.4 inches. It is rumored that Huawei’s Z-fold phone’s panel supplier could be BOE.

However, the design of the triple-fold phone may not be limited to just the Z-fold type; it could also be designed in a G-fold manner.

What is the G-fold type? It means both hinges fold inward. Nonetheless, such a design would necessitate adding a cover screen, which would increase the overall weight and thickness. Additionally, to cover the folded panel, the folding radius of the other side’s hinge must be enlarged.

As for the Z-fold (or S-fold) design, while it allows for the use of the outer folded panel as a cover screen, thus saving weight, the simultaneous presence of both inward and outward folding poses significant challenges to the panel’s layer stacking design and the mechanism’s design.

However, some people may wonder, “Are foldable phones really selling well?” In fact, according to TrendForce’s data,  for the shipment numbers last year, the existing shipment volume of foldable phones still falls short of expectations, reaching only 15.7 million units, failing to surpass the 16 million mark.

The sales performance of the leading brand in foldable phones, Samsung Electronics, was also not as good as expected, remaining at around 10.5 million units. The sales situation of other Chinese brands also did not meet expectations.

While foldable phones have indeed become the new symbol of high-end flagship smartphones, the fact is that the design patterns have become quite fixed. For consumers who are always looking for something new, these phones have lost their novelty and breakthrough points.

Therefore, brands have begun to contemplate the future of foldable phones with new designs and are considering abandoning certain design patterns to achieve better profitability.

For instance, OPPO and vivo are expected to abandon upright foldable phone models within this year, opting to retain only the left-right folding models (Fold).

The main reason behind this decision is that the pricing of upright foldable phones is lower, and although there might be a chance of higher shipment volumes compared to the Fold models, the profit margins are not significant.

Now that the demand for foldable phones has started to plateau, it is anticipated that the demand for foldable phones this year will only reach 17.7 million units, a 12.3% year-on-year increase.

In the face of sluggish end-user demand, why are smartphone brands still considering launching new types of foldable phones? This relates to the notion of “technological showcase.” Huawei’s triple-fold phone design takes into account technological capabilities, yield rates, and other factors.

Initially, the scale may not be too large, but the technological demonstration aspect remains potent. Huawei is anticipated to position itself as a technological leader, exerting pressure on other smartphone brands to a certain extent.

However, brands are not only contemplating “folding” smartphone designs. Some brands have also begun considering rollable and pull-up designs, aiming to inject new vitality into the smartphone market.

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(Photo credit: Huawei)

Please note that this article cites information from TechNews.


[News] Huawei Issues Rush Orders for Crucial Components, Focusing on CIS for Foldable Phones

In a strong push for foldable smartphones, reportedly, Huawei has issued rush orders to its supply chain lately. The shipment target for foldable smartphones this year is set at ten million units, marking a nearly threefold increase from the 2.6 million units shipped last year.

Previous rumors suggested that Huawei was considering lowering its foldable smartphone shipment targets for this year. However, the industry sources from related supply chain emphasizes that not only did Huawei refrain from reducing orders, but it significantly increased them.

According to Economic Daily News cited from supply chain sources, Huawei has set very ambitious goals for foldable smartphone shipments this year, aiming to increase from last year’s 2.6 million units to a range of 7 to 10 million units. This represents a nearly threefold increase, requiring additional support from various components.

Among them, the critical mobile phone component CIS, due to a rebound from the market downturn, has seen prices starting to surge. Main CIS supplier, Samsung, has raised prices by 25% to 30% this quarter.

To avoid the risk of escalating prices, CIS has become Huawei’s top priority for stocking up, primarily supplied by the Chinese CIS supplier, OmniVision. The substantial increase in overall shipment targets for foldable smartphone has driven a several-fold growth in CIS stockpiles.

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(Photo credit: Huawei)

Please note that this article cites information from Economic Daily News


[Tech Recap and Glimpse 5-4] Can Huawei Successfully Capture Apple’s High-End Smartphone Market?

In 2019, the U.S. Commerce Department blacklisted Huawei and over 70 of its subsidiaries, restricting China’s advancement in advanced chip development.

However, in August 2023, Huawei unexpectedly launched its new flagship smartphone, the Mate 60 Pro, featuring its self-developed 5G chip, hinting at Huawei’s breakthrough in the U.S. 5G chip restriction.

The release of this new smartphone swiftly dominated the high-end smartphone market in China, with Apple being the primary target. As Huawei plans to expand the market share of its high-end flagship series in 2024, targeting the domestic market in China, the product is poised for direct competition with Apple.

The performance of Apple’s smartphones in the Chinese market next year will be a focal point of industry attention.

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(Photo credit: Huawei)


[News] Huawei, Honor, and Transsion Reportedly Estimate Active Smartphone Shipment Goals in 2024, Projecting an Additional 70-80 Million Units

According to a news report from IJIWEI, as the supply chain reveals, three major Chinese smartphone manufacturers, Huawei, Honor, and Transsion, are estimating an active shipment goal of 70-80 million units in 2024. This estimate accounts for approximately 5% in the global smartphone market. 

On the other hands, memory manufacturers are expected to continue pushing for price increases in 2024, as demand from smartphone customers becomes more proactive in the fourth quarter.

Reportedly, the supply chain estimates that due to U.S. restrictions, Huawei’s smartphone shipments are confined to the domestic Chinese market. It is projected that new device shipments for 2024 could see growth in the range of 20-30 million units. 

Honor, with a potential 300% increase in overseas smartphone shipments in the first three quarters of 2023, coupled with the success of the Magic V2 foldable smartphone, aims to continue the momentum with a growth projection of 20 million units in 2024.

Transsion estimates a growth of 30 million units in smartphone shipments in 2024, making it the only brand currently challenging double-digit growth.

Previously, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from Tianfeng International Securities indicated in a report that Huawei is expected to launch a new flagship series, the P70, in the first half of 2024. Benefiting from upgraded camera specifications and the adoption of the in-house designed Kirin chip, the shipment volume of the models under Huawei’s P70 series is expected to see significant growth in 2024 compared to the 4–5 million units of the models under the P60 series in 2023.

If the current robust demand for replenishing smartphone inventory continues into the first half of 2024, the shipment volume of the P70 series is expected to show strong year-on-year growth of about 230%, reaching 13-15 million units for 2024. Even if the demand for inventory replenishment slows down in the first half of 2024, the shipment volume of the P70 series is still expected to experience significant year-on-year growth of 150%, reaching 10-12 million units for 2024.

(Photo credit: Huawei)

Please note that this article cites information from IJIWEI.


[News] Bezel-Less iPhone on the Horizon? LG Innotek Rumored to Develop Under-Panel Camera

In the pursuit of a larger screen-to-body ratio, smartphones adopting a “bezel-less” design have become a trend. According to a report from the Korean media outlet “The Elec,” rumors in the market suggest that Apple’s iPhone 17 Pro, expected to be released in 2025, will achieve a “100% bezel-less” look, with supplier LG Innotek reportedly developing an under-display camera. This innovation could potentially become a major selling point for the new iPhone series.

LG Innotek, a major South Korean smartphone camera module manufacturer, is actively working on developing an Under-Panel Camera (UPC) in response to the specific requirements of its important customer, Apple.

The concept involves completely hiding the camera components beneath the screen, eliminating the need for a camera notch. This approach aims to offer a seamless, all-screen experience, and it is anticipated that iPhones featuring under-display cameras could be introduced within the next few years.

However, the report further indicated from its sources that, currently, Apple is more likely to adopt specifications for under-display Face ID rather than UPC.

The reason behind this lies in the fact that under-display cameras come with certain drawbacks. Since the camera is under the display panel, the light transmission of the cover glass can affect the entry of light into the image sensor. Poor resolution and the inability to support high-speed continuous shooting are common fatal flaws associated with under-display cameras.

Nevertheless, according to “The Elec”, in an attempt to overcome these drawbacks, LG Innotek is working on incorporating a free-curve prism under the display for UPC. This hardware enhancement aims to improve the light transmission of the camera under the screen, addressing the issues of low transparency and poor imaging quality.

However, an industry source has pointed out that it is currently uncertain when Apple will actually use the under-display cameras produced by LG Innotek. Reportedly, according to insiders, Apple is not entirely satisfied with the samples provided by LG Innotek.

As early as 2021, Apple’s competitor Samsung had already introduced the Z Fold 3 with an under-display camera design, but the image quality of the camera was significantly inferior to that of traditional punch-hole cameras.

(Photo credit: LG Innotek)

Please note that this article cites information from TheLec and TechNews.

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