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Global Foldable Phone Shipments to Reach 17.7 Million in 2024, Yearly Increase Slows to 11%, Says TrendForce

21 February 2024 Display Ruby Lu

TrendForce reports that global shipments of foldable phones reached 15.9 million units in 2023, marking a 25% YoY increase and accounting for approximately 1.4% of the overall smartphone market. In 2024, shipments are expected to rise to about 17.7 million units, growing by 11% and slightly increasing the market share to 1.5%. However, this growth rate remains below market expectations, with the segment’s share predicted to exceed 2% only by 2025.

The slowdown in the growth of foldable phones is attributed to two main factors: Firstly, consumer retention is low due to frequent maintenance issues faced by first-time foldable phone users, leading to a lack of confidence in the product. As a result, users may opt for high-end flagship smartphones when considering replacements. Secondly, the current price points of foldable phones have yet to reach the sweet spot for consumers, making it challenging to meet sales targets based solely on pricing.

TrendForce notes that future developments in the foldable smartphone market are closely tied to the pace of cost optimization. Key components such as UTG and hinges could see mass production following standardization, significantly reducing costs. Additionally, an increase in foldable panel shipments by Chinese panel makers—who offer a price advantage over Korean suppliers—is expected to further lower the cost of foldable phones. This would enable brands to reduce sale prices and accelerate market penetration rates.

Samsung faces a battle to maintain a 60% market share; Huawei poised to break through 20%

In terms of brand performance, Samsung remains the market leader despite its market share sliding from 80% in 2022 to under 70% in 2023, while Huawei’s shipments have risen to 12%. Brands such as Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo have kept their shares below 10%. Looking ahead to 2024, Samsung aims to maintain its foldable phone market share around 60%, consistent with its 2023 target. Huawei, in contrast, is aggressively boosting its foldable phone shipments, aiming for a market share that could surpass 20%.

Notably, Oppo and Vivo have hinted at shelving their plans for launching smaller, vertically folding devices this year, opting instead to channel their efforts into larger, horizontally folding models due to concerns over high costs impacting profitability. On the flip side, Huawei is on track to unveil a 5G-enabled small vertical folding device, and Honor, yet to make its debut in the compact foldable sector, is anticipated to enter the competition this year.

While numerous smartphone brands are diving into the foldable phone arena, one notable absentee is Apple, which has yet to formally announce its plans for foldable phones. Despite sporadic rumors about Apple assessing essential components for foldable devices, including requesting samples and tests for panels and hinges, TrendForce notes it remains uncertain whether Apple will embark on developing a foldable phone product. Nevertheless, it's widely anticipated that Apple's potential entry into the foldable phone market could significantly spur market growth.

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