Folding mobiles are less and less ‘niche’ after their sales pull in the second half

The data leaves no doubt: folding mobiles are beginning to cease to be a niche business. Samsung’s efforts to boost this market, with a price cut last August when it launched the third generation of the Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Z Flip, have begun to pay off. Only in the third quarter of this year 2.6 million smartphones foldable, according to the latest report from Display Supply Chain (DSCC). The figure represents having sold much more than in the last four previous quarters combined, in addition to growing 215% compared to the second quarter and 480% compared to the previous year.

The good figures for this business do not stop there. DSCC estimates that shipments will be even higher in the last quarter of the year, with an increase of 47% compared to the third quarter and 3.8 million units sold. And it raises its forecast for 2022 to 17.5 million folding smartphones sold, which will mean a growth of 131%.

This analysis firm points out that Samsung will conclude 2021 with a 95% share of this market, after closing the third quarter with a 93% share, especially thanks to the strong pull of its Galaxy Z Flip 3 mobile, which with a price of less than 1,000 euros, 31% lower than the Z Flip 5G, accounted for 60% of the total shipments of folding mobile phones globally. The other terminal of the South Korean company that stands out and occupies the second position in sales in this category that “emerges quickly”, according to DSCC, is the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Among the six best-selling folding mobile phones there are two others from Samsung and two from Huawei. The one that stands out the most from this firm is the Mate X2 4G, fourth in the ranking.

Substantial evolution

The experts consulted agree that the “substantial evolution” experienced by folding models (more robustness, better features adapted to the double screen and tighter prices) is helping to develop this segment, and they foresee that the arrival of new proposals from the hand of these and other manufacturers finish pushing this category of mobile, “which has come to stay,” as they point out.

Only in this month of December, Huawei and Oppo have launched each smartphones foldable. The first one, one of the pioneers in this segment by releasing its Mate X in 2019, has just launched the P50 Pocket, a “shell” mobile designed to be used vertically. And the Chinese Oppo now disembarks in the category with its Find N. At the moment, both phones are only marketed in China and their prices are still high for more massive consumption: 1,245 euros the first and 1,067 euros the second. Both companies join the small group of folding smartphone manufacturers, which already included, in addition to the aforementioned Samsung and Huawei, Motorola and Xiaomi.

The P50 Pocket, from Huawei.


The P50 Pocket, from Huawei.

Sergio Muñoz, Vice President of Sales for Oppo Spain and Portugal, explains that the Find N reaches the market “after four years of development looking for the right moment to launch a product with the necessary performance quality for the type of user it is aimed at” . He adds that Oppo has invested more than $ 1.4 billion in innovation since 2019.

The manager also highlights that Find N is the “first folding mobile with horizontal orientation on its internal screen, bringing the use of the equipment closer to that of more conventional tablets, in order to change the perception of users about what this type offers us from smartphones and make them more accessible to all users, increasing the potential of this market ”.

Both Oppo and other manufacturers believe that mobile technology has entered an era of unlimited innovation with folding models. “Manufacturers are finding a way to break the bottleneck of consumer screens. smartphones”, He indicated to The Economics Times Gasleem Arif, Vice President and R&D Director of Oppo India.

Other manufacturers join

It is expected that in 2022 Honor and Realme will launch their first folding phones, and there are those who do not rule out that Google and Apple will join the party, although with these two companies there are many doubts. It is also expected that Xiaomi, which already presented its first smartphone folding, the Mi Mix Fold, launch a second model. It would be, according to various technological means, the Xiaomi Mix Fold 2, which would have a book format, would integrate the camera technology under the screen and would come with support for a pencil, among other novelties.

Although we will have to wait to see which terminals finally reach the market, the truth is that mobile manufacturers continue to work on increasingly daring proposals for the future. As reported HypertextualIn recent days, patents registered by Microsoft and Samsung for future mobile phones with triple folding screens have come to light. What seems clear is that if more manufacturers dare to enter this market, which is experiencing unprecedented growth, and more models are launched, these terminals will be less exclusive and could lower their price more by making more massive productions.

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