Less than 0.1 percent of smartphones will have foldable displays this year and share will grow to more than 3 percent by 2024, Strategy Analytics said.
Samsung Electronics on Sept 5 said its first foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Fold, will be available in South Korea from Sept. 6 with 5G mobile connectivity. Galaxy Fold will be priced 2.398 million won or $1,977 in Korea.
Huawei on June 14 said it will delay the launch of its foldable 5G Mate X smartphone by three months. Huawei in Feb said the price of Mate X foldable smartphone will be $2,607 in global markets.
“Foldable display smartphones will be an ultra-premium category with a limited customer base that can afford the pricy new devices. Foldable display smartphones will initially primarily target business users. The price of foldable display smartphones should come down for mass adoption,” Ken Hyers, director at Strategy Analytics, said.
“Durability is a main concern for foldable display smartphone buyers. Vendors must work hard and spend serious marketing money to convince consumers that the devices are durable for everyday usage,” Strategy Analytics’ Ken Hyers.
The leaders in foldable display smartphone market are Samsung Electronics and Huawei Technologies.
Samsung and Huawei have faced quality and durability questions with them, particularly as relates to the display. “Delays are inevitable with such big design changes but we expect Samsung and Huawei to resolve those issues and devices,” Ville-Petteri Ukonaho, associate director at Strategy Analytics, said.
All major smartphone vendors including Apple, Xiaomi and others that are developing or evaluating the market opportunity created by foldable display smartphones and will launch own devices in the future.
Research firm Canalys said in Feb that it expects shipment of foldable smartphones will be fewer than 2 million in 2019.
“Cost is the key factor that will hinder adoption,” said Canalys Senior Analyst Ben Stanton. “Foldable phone makers must ensure excellent quality and durability. Any early teething problems or breakages will sour the foldable form-factor before it has had a chance to get going.”
WitsView, a division of TrendForce, in its research report in Dec 2018 said the foldable smartphone penetration rate is estimated to reach 1.5 percent in 2021.
Huawei, LG, Google and Lenovo face longer time due to lack of alternative panel suppliers other than Samsung. “The initial demand for foldable smartphones will not be very strong, considering the need for product optimization, and lack of flexible AMOLED panel suppliers other than Samsung,” Boyce Fan, research director of WitsView, said.