Global shipments of foldable smartphones are projected to surge by almost three quarters to around 16 million units this year.
The premium market shows resilience and steady demand, despite current economic headwinds, a new study from Counterpoint Research showed.
The 73 per cent annual growth from 2021's 9 million units would make this device category the fastest growing in the overall smartphone sector, and the momentum will continue with a further 44 per cent jump to 23 million units in 2023, the Hong Kong-based research company said.
Samsung will continue to dominate the industry, and is expected to solidify its hold on top after it launched its new devices, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Flip 4, this week.
“Samsung has led the market since the beginning, and we think its dominance will continue for some time. Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi and Vivo are all introducing new foldables but they are mostly limited to the Chinese market. Motorola may be the only contender in markets like the US for now,” Jene Park, a senior analyst at Counterpoint, wrote.
“We expect the new Galaxy Fold 4 and Flip 4 combo to continue Samsung’s momentum in the space and sell close to 9 million units this year, helping the company’s second-half foldables share to jump to 80 per cent.”
The growth in popularity of foldable smartphones has been largely attributed to Samsung, which pushed the category into the mainstream, starting with the original Fold in 2019.
While the category is growing, it still barely makes a dent in the overall smartphone sector. Foldables hold a 0.5 per cent market share in the industry, with traditional smartphones accounting for 99.5 per cent of the total with more than 1.34 billion shipments last year, according to the International Data Corporation.
Even with a projected 70 per cent compound annual growth rate through to 2025, foldables would eke out less than a 2 per cent market share by then with 27.6 million shipments, it said.
Counterpoint's study showed that Samsung held 62 of the foldable device market, with China's Huawei and Oppo coming in at a distant second and third with 16 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively.
Counterpoint's latest projections are lower than its previous forecast, which said that foldable shipments would leap 83 per cent to 16.6 million units this year. That would outperform the overall smartphone market, which is expected to decline by 2.5 per cent to about 1.36 billion, it added.
The research company sees the premium market showing strong growth despite macro headwinds, with ultra-premium devices leading the segment.
“Foldables not only bring fresh design to smartphones — traditionally ruled by bar-type form factors — but also more screen real estate. This is growing in importance with smartphone use cases expanding, especially across media, entertainment and work,” Mr Park said.