What you need to know
- DSCC reports that foldable displays will come down in cost as more OEMs release foldable smartphones.
- Foldable smartphone shipments are expected to reach more than 50 million by 2026.
- Companies are also gearing up their efforts with rollable smartphones.
- The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is expected to be the best-selling foldable of 2021.
A new report from the Display Supply Chain Consultants (DCSS) sheds new light on foldable smartphone market growth over the next several years.
Fueled by recent launches of Samsung best foldable phones like the Galaxy Z Fold 3, DSCC now predicts that shipments of foldable smartphones will exceed 50 million by 2026 while raising its forecasts for 2021 and beyond. This is partly due to the decreased cost associated with producing foldable displays and the increase in companies producing components such as the Ultra-Thin Glass (UTG).
DSCC CEO Ross Young notes that the growth in foldable smartphone shipments in 2021 "is a result of the launch of Samsung's aggressively priced $999 Z Flip 3 and full featured/multi-functional $1799 Z Fold 3." He highlights increased durability and new additions like S-Pen support and an under-panel camera (UPC) as standout features, coupled with Samsung's "reported $2B spend" for marketing that will help these phones gain traction.
That said, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is expected to be the best-selling foldable of 2021, which is not surprising given its broader consumer appeal, especially towards the younger generation. This will lead to a 35% boost in foldable sales this year compared to previous forecasts.
DSCC is also raising its 2022 outlook by 20%, with foldable shipments set to double.
Another big contributor to foldable growth over the next year and beyond will be the introduction of new devices in the coming months from players such as Google, Vivo, OPPO, Huawei, and Xiaomi.
The report notes that companies are shifting focus to more expensive foldables amid the global chip shortage in order to maximize revenues, not unlike Samsung which skipped out on the Galaxy Note 20 successor this year.
Apple is also expected to launch a foldable in 2023, which could bring the form factor further into mainstream territory and is set to be Samsung's toughest competition.
Speaking to Android Central, Ross says that while Apple may enter the foldable market later than competitors, by 2025, the company will be locked "in a tight battle with Samsung for the top spot in foldables at 34% to 33%." He notes that this may change depending on when exactly Apple launches its foldable smartphone.
In addition, rollable smartphones are still well on the way, according to Ross, with the first expected to arrive by Q1 2023. We've already seen working prototypes and concepts teased by companies such as OPPO and Samsung, suggesting that they're close to becoming a reality. Combined with foldables, Ross expects shipments of these newer form factors to reach 70 million by 2026.
That's still a drop compared to the nearly 1.3 billion smartphones shipped in 2020, but the raised outlook shows that Samsung's strategy is working.
Nostalgia at its best
The flip gets even better
The new Galaxy Z Flip 3 is perfect for anyone who misses the good old days when hanging up was as dramatic as slamming your phone shut. And with the larger outer display, it's perfect for controlling music, checking messages, or taking selfies with the dual-camera setup.
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Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.