Foldable Smartphone Shipments Set to Surge, Despite Absence of Apple

The foldable smartphone market is poised for significant growth in the coming years, with TrendForce’s latest insights revealing impressive projections.
foldable smartphone market
By 2023, shipments of foldable smartphones are expected to reach 18.3 million units, representing a remarkable 43 percent year-over-year surge. However, this still accounts for only 1.6 percent of the total smartphone market share for the year.

Looking ahead to 2024, the growth continues, with a 38 percent increase projected, resulting in 25.2 million foldable smartphone units shipped and a market share of 2.2 percent. In the medium to long term, TrendForce anticipates further expansion, with shipments potentially reaching 70 million units by 2027, capturing around 5 percent of the global smartphone market.

Driving Forces Behind the Expansion

Reduced costs and strategic moves by Chinese smartphone brands are identified as the primary drivers behind the expansion of the foldable smartphone market. As the costs of key components, especially panels and hinges, decline, the possibility of foldable phone prices dropping below the $1,000 threshold becomes increasingly likely. This price reduction is expected to ignite consumer interest and boost purchase intent.

Market Leaders and Shifts

Samsung has maintained its position as the leader in the foldable smartphone market, projecting a robust shipment of 12.5 million units. However, its market share has dipped from a dominant 82 percent in 2022 to 68 percent in 2023, largely due to the growing competition from Chinese contenders.

Huawei secured the runner-up spot with an estimated 2.5 million foldable units shipped, holding a respectable 14 percent market share. OPPO and Xiaomi followed closely with market shares of 5 percent and 4 percent, respectively. Other brands collectively accounted for less than 4 percent of the market.

Chinese Brands’ Focus on Domestic Market

The repercussions of the global pandemic have influenced the strategies of Chinese foldable smartphone brands, which have primarily concentrated on the domestic market, avoiding aggressive overseas expansion. However, should these brands decide to shift their focus and increase global sales efforts, it could accelerate the growth of the foldable smartphone market.

Apple’s Enigmatic Role

Apple’s entry into the foldable smartphone market has been cautious thus far, dampening consumer enthusiasm for the segment. Persistent challenges related to foldable technology, such as panel evenness and hinge design, may be holding the tech giant back.

Interestingly, larger foldable panels may present fewer obstacles, leading to speculation that Apple could leapfrog into medium-sized foldable products like laptops or tablets in the future, driven by its unwavering commitment to user experience. Only time will reveal Apple’s strategy in this evolving market.