The foldable smartphone market is on the rise. Shipments may have declined in the fourth quarter of last year, but it’s a negligible blip likely triggered by the economic downturn. The future looks pretty bright. Oppo, Honor, and Tecno entered the global market a few days back at MWC 2023. However, for the time being, no one is challenging Samsung. The Korean behemoth, which has been selling foldable devices globally since 2022, captured more than 80 percent of the market in 2022.
According to a recent Financial Times report, which cites data from Canalys, a total of 14.2 million foldable smartphones were shipped globally last year. Almost 12 million of those were Galaxy foldables. Huawei, which has been selling foldables in China for a few years now, accounted for nearly two million units. Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, and Honor were the other brands with a notable share of the market. Motorola, which was the first competitor to Samsung in this niche, now barely has any foothold in it. The firm only shipped about 40,000 foldables last year.
Overall, foldables still only represent about one percent of the global smartphone market. But that could more than double by the end of this year. Canalys estimates total shipments to grow over 100 percent in 2023 to reach 30 million. The research firm previously projected foldable sales to cross that figure in 2024. But multiple Chinese companies going global with their products over the past few days means it has now adjusted its forecasts. With Google also expected to launch a Pixel Fold later this year, the estimated two-fold increase seems reasonable.
Samsung aims to capture more than 50 percent of the foldable market in 2023
Samsung’s share in the global smartphone market has been declining steadily over the past few years. But as you read above, every four of five foldables (80 percent) sold around the world today is still a Galaxy device. That’s a testament to the Korean firm’s headstart in this niche. However, the company may not be able to hold onto that massive lead for much longer now. Oppo, Honor, Xiaomi, and others are coming for it. These companies will eat up a big chunk of Samsung’s foldable market this year and beyond.
The world’s largest smartphone maker is still aiming to capture more than 50 percent of the market in 2023, though. Samsung’s mobile chief TM Roh last month said that its foldable sales will grow double digits to reach over 15 million units this year. Last year’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 may not be as appealing to prospective buyers now that they have more options. But Samsung will launch its fifth-gen foldables in the second half of 2023 and those may find a good number of buyers. Interesting times are ahead in the foldable smartphone space.