Foldable smartphone shipments to rise in 2023; competition grows fiercer, says DIGITIMES Research

Vyra Wu, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: DIGITIMES Asia

DIGITIMES Research estimates that about 18.3 million foldable smartphones are shipped in 2022, with Samsung accounting for 75% of the volumes. The total shipments are expected to rise to 27.8 million in 2023, with Samsung's market share decreasing to 66% due to competition from other major competitors, but the Korean brand will continue to be the industry leader, according to DIGITIMES Research's latest study over smartphones.

However, Apple is likely to heat up the competition with the launch of its first foldable smartphone, a device that could greatly change the existing foldable smartphone market, said DIGITIMES Research Co-Researcher Chiawen Chang.

Foldable smartphones consist of two form factors: One folds in half with smaller screens and is more portable, and the other opens up to form a larger screen and can be used as a tablet in order to achieve enhanced multi-window operation and gaming experience, which usually require the support of large memory and battery capacity.

Currently, both Samsung and Huawei are offering foldable smartphones to cover the mid-range to high-end markets. Facing Samsung's domination of the global market, despite Huawei's efforts to catch up in terms of technologies, products from the Chinese brand will mostly be supplied to the Chinese market due to US sanctions. From the supply chain perspective, most of Samsung's key components, including OLED, memory and battery, are made in South Korea, giving the Korean smartphone giant an advantage in cost reduction.

On the other hand, the rapid launch of foldable smartphones by Chinese brands also helps strengthen the China supply chain's display panel production capacity. Huawei and Honor are using OLED panels from China-based BOE to avoid geographical risks, compared to Xiaomi's and Vivo's products that still adopt OLED panels supplied by Samsung Display (SDC).

Global foldable smartphone shipments by Samsung and others, 2021-2023 (m units)

Source: DIGITIMES Research, December 2022