International Data Corporation (IDC) witnessed worldwide shipments of foldable phones, inclusive of both flip and fold form factors, reach a total of 7.1 million units in 2021. This represents an increase of 264.3% over the 1.9 million units shipped in 2020. A new forecast from IDC projects foldable phone shipments will reach 27.6 million units in 2025 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 69.9% from 2020 to 2025.
The growth in 2021 can largely be attributed to Samsung’s recent success, as the Korean giant made waves in the market thanks to its newest foldable flagships. The new design of the Flip3 was a winner for consumers thanks to its compact folding size (pocketable), larger second display, and most importantly its $999 price tag. The new Fold3 also saw vast improvements but remains much higher in price and more of a niche product overall.
Despite their small market share, foldables represent a major opportunity for vendors. From the consumer point of view, foldables represent the most innovative visual change to happen to smartphones and therefore it is a segment that cannot be ignored by vendors. The commercial segment has also seen foldables being marketed as a replacement for both a phone and a tablet. Although IDC believes adoption of this use case remains low, vendors have made some enticing offers on the latest lineup of foldables that are explicitly targeting business users.
“The recent success of the foldable devices from Samsung has given new life to the category as competitors rush to enter the market,” said Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “Samsung has proven that there is consumer demand for foldable phones once they hit the right price and feature a more stable build. Thanks to its foldable devices, the Flip and the Fold have filled the Galaxy Note gap for Samsung while attracting new consumers to the brand. We have already witnessed other vendors launching new foldables this year, and we expect more players to attempt to take share away from Samsung as the form factor grows in popularity.”
|Worldwide Foldable Phone Shipments, Market Share, and Growth Forecast (shipments in millions of units)
|2021 Market Share*
|2025 Market Share*
|Source: IDC, Worldwide Foldable Smartphone Forecast, 2021–2025, Feb 2022.
“Although foldables did not capture a significant share of the market with 7.1 million devices shipped in 2021, they made up a third of the premium ($1,000+) Android market. So, it will not be long before foldables, just like 5G, become a signature and expected feature of the premium Android market,” said Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “While the importance of foldable is no longer in question to any brand that wants a share of the premium Android space, what is interesting to vendors now is the battle between the Flip and the Fold form factors. Although the Flip seems to be more popular, it is still too early in the game to declare a clear winner. Vendors should continue to keep a close eye on the overall foldable market as it continues to grow and attract new players to the market.”