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Foldable smartphone market surges 49% YoY growth in Q1 2024

The global foldable smartphone market grew 49% YoY in Q1 2024, marking its highest rate of increase in six quarters, according to the latest Counterpoint Research Foldable Smartphone Shipment Tracker. This surge was primarily driven by significant shipment increases at several Chinese OEMs. Notably, Huawei ascended to the top spot in quarterly global shipments for the first time, overtaking Samsung, which had consistently led the market.

Huawei’s transition to 5G in foldables was a key driver of its 257% YoY growth this quarter. A year ago, Huawei’s foldable portfolio consisted solely of LTE devices. However, by Q1 2024, the proportion of 5G-enabled foldables surged to 84% of the brand’s total foldable shipments.

Launched in September last year, Huawei’s first 5G book-type foldable, the Mate X5, has been one of the bestsellers in China’s foldable market for three consecutive quarters. In April 2024, Huawei also released its first 5G clamshell model Pocket 2, significantly contributing to the Q1 shipments. Despite facing challenges in securing supplies for its self-developed 5G SoC, Huawei will continue to treat foldables as a priority, considering their higher price positioning.

In contrast to Huawei’s focus on the Chinese market, HONOR and Motorola have achieved substantial shipment growth in overseas markets as well. HONOR’s global foldable market share jumped from 3% a year ago to 12% in Q1 2024, making it the third-largest player. Its shipments outside of China grew massively from a small base, driven by the slimmest infolding book-type model, the HONOR Magic V2, which became the most shipped foldable phone in Western Europe in Q1 2024. Similarly, Motorola increased its global market share to 11% to rank fourth, with the Razr 40 (aka Razr 2023) becoming a top model in North America.

We also observed that in Q1 2024, book-type foldables accounted for 55% of the global foldable market shipments, surpassing the clamshell type for the first time since 2021 when the foldable smartphone market began its notable growth following the release of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3. The clamshell market, predominantly led by Samsung, has always enjoyed popularity due to its more accessible pricing, except in the Chinese foldable market. However, while Chinese OEMs such as Huawei, HONOR, OnePlus and vivo have been consistently launching new book-type products since the second half of last year, the growth in Samsung’s clamshell segment has slowed, resulting in a reversal between the popular types this quarter.

Despite the rise of book-type foldables, expectations remain high for the clamshell market’s growth potential this year, bolstered by some anticipated product launches. Samsung aims to reclaim its market leadership with the upcoming Z Flip 6, which promises enhanced performance and reliability. Huawei is also setting aggressive targets for the clamshell market, planning to add a lower-priced model to its portfolio. Both HONOR and Xiaomi are poised to enter the clamshell competition for the first time, intensifying the market dynamics. Counterpoint Research

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