Canalys’ latest report says that the foldable smartphones market will increase by a CAGR of 53% between 2021 and 2024. As for the number, its shipments will exceed 30 million in 2024. If compared with 2019, when the first foldable smartphone was announced, the market will increase by a CAGR of 122% in 2024. The absolute leader here is Samsung, which has managed to ship 8.9 million foldable smartphones in 2021. For the company, the foldable segment grew 148% year on year despite high price tags. But there the overall smartphone market only grew 7%. In other words, we can say that the foldables are growing much faster than the overall smartphone market.
“The key catalyst for foldable smartphones has been the booming use of large-screen devices during the pandemic,” said Runar Bjørhovde, Research Analyst at Canalys. “As consumers are constantly looking for a better experience on their day-to-day mobile devices, the bar has now been set even higher by the productivity and entertainment experience on large screens. As the world continues to reopen, it brings new opportunities for smartphone vendors to provide products such as foldable smartphones that can fulfill consumers’ needs and desires.”
As the research company notices, foldable smartphones are just boosters for cumulative sales. They are flagship models with top-notch features and a high price tag. All foldable smartphones run on the Android system. So this is a good chance for the Android camp players to say their word in the premium market, where Apple dominates. In this segment, shipments of Android phones with US$800-plus prices have fallen 18% below the 2019 level while iOS shipments have grown 68% over the same time.
“Fortunately, the supply chain ecosystem for foldable devices has developed rapidly over the last few years, thanks to Samsung. While there are an increasing number of suppliers for foldable displays, hinges, and other key components, device vendors are also highlighting innovative engineering solutions and product designs for a better user experience while constantly pushing down prices,” said Amber Liu, Research Analyst at Canalys. “In addition to major hardware design innovations, the real battlefield for device vendors is the software user experience, which requires substantial investment in the user interface and capable software as the foldable app ecosystem is still far from optimal. Last November, Google’s Android Dev Summit brought many new features for foldable and dual-screen app developers, providing a vital booster for this category with promising user experience improvements likely to come soon.”
However, Apple is going to launch its own foldable smartphone. Once this happens, Android smartphone vendors will appear in a bad situation again. But still, only Android smartphone makers have launched their own models or are going to launch.