Foldable phone shipments could surpass 100 million by 2025

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8-inch foldable iPhone concept
A concept foldable phone shows the advantages: it’s about the size of an iPhone 11, but opens into an iPad mini.
Concept: Ben Geskin

The market for foldable phones is still in its infancy. But a market analysts firm says eventually every major phone maker will produce them, including Apple. Once problems with early designs are worked out, shipments will pass the 100 million mark in a few years.

There are benefits of this emerging phone technology. “Foldables pack a big screen into a small design,” points out Neil Mawston, an analyst with Strategy Analytics. “Consumers can surf rich content, like video, on a large display, and then fold the device away neatly into a pocket or bag.”

Early foldable phone problems are just teething pains

This class of devices currently faces skepticism because of problems with first-generation devices. The new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, and especially last year’s Galaxy Fold, demonstrate some of the early challenges.

But the difficulties are temporary. “The foldables industry has several hurdles to overcome, including very high pricing, low yields of bendable displays, and questionable durability about whether the hinges or screens will last for more than a few months,” says Ville-Petteri Ukonaho, also from Strategy Analytics. “However, the technical problems for foldables are not unsolvable, and we expect the issues to be addressed in the coming years.”

Big changes are coming

In five years, Strategy Analytics sees folding phones making up a significant share of the market. “We forecast global foldable smartphone shipments will grow strongly from under 1 million units in 2019 to 100 million by 2025,” said Ukonaho. “Foldables will be the fastest-growing segment of the premium smartphone market for the next decade.”

Although companies like Samsung and Huawei have taken the lead, these analysts expect there to be significant competition. “By 2025, every major player should have a foldables portfolio, including Apple,” predicts Ken Hyers from Strategy Analytics.

Source: Strategy Analytics