By the end of 2022, shipments of foldable phones, including flip and fold form factors, will reach 13.5 million units, according to the latest data from market intelligence firm International Data Corporation (IDC). This represents an increase of 66.6% over the 8.1 million units shipped in 2021.
In 2026, the IDC projects that foldable smartphones will likely tap a bigger chunk of the market to reach 41.5 million units, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.7% from 2022 to 2026.
“The new launches (Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Fold 4) from Samsung have brought incremental but critical improvements over their predecessors,” said Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “The success of these devices should be a strong indicator of how foldables will evolve and capture consumers moving forward. While the price remains a pain point for consumers, the $999 starting price may be accepted by consumers given that most consumer goods have seen price increases due to inflation in 2022.”
So far, Samsung has been dominating the market and IDC believes that the momentum will continue with newly updated models will outperform their predecessors and grab more consumer attention in the category.
“The commercial segment of the market remains ripe for utilizing foldables as two-in-one devices that can replace both a phone and a tablet.” IDC said.
Although IDC still believes this use case remains a low priority, falling prices and new business use cases make the idea more appealing moving forward. Next year will bring 55.1% growth for foldables with continued double-digit growth throughout the forecast period.
“With almost 70% year-over-year growth expected for foldables in 2022, the biggest question today is whether foldables will become mainstream anytime soon? Unfortunately, the answer is no,” said Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “To me, mainstream means volume, and volume is dominated by cheaper, sub-$400 phones.”
IDC said foldables should remain a niche and premium flagship device. IDC advises vendors to focus on improving user experience and building to increase confidence in the category and generate long-term growth.
“I believe foldables are the future of premium Android devices even if, as a whole, they are only expected to capture less than 3% of global volume by the end of our forecast period,” Popal said.