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Foldable phone shipments to reach 41.5 million in 2026
Wed, 5th Oct 2022
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Worldwide shipments of foldable phones, including flip and fold form factors, are expected to reach 13.5 million units in 2022, according to new forecasts from IDC. 

The figure represents an increase of 66.6% over the 8.1 million units shipped in 2021. An updated IDC forecast projects that foldable phone shipments will reach 41.5 million units in 2026, with a compound annual growth rate of 38.7% from 2021 to 2026.

The healthy growth of the foldable market has been led by Samsung with its Flip and Fold lineup. IDC expects the newly updated models will outperform their predecessors and grab more consumer attention in the category. 

The commercial segment of the market remains ripe for utilising foldables as two-in-one devices that can replace both a phone and a tablet. 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.

"The recent launch of the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Fold 4 will once again shine a spotlight on the entire category as Samsung continues to be the gold standard for foldable devices in the market," says Anthony Scarsella, Research Manager with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. 

"The new launches from Samsung have brought incremental but critical improvements over their predecessors. The success of these devices should be a strong indicator of how foldables will evolve and capture consumers moving forward," he says. 

"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."

Nabila Popal, Research Director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, adds, "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.

"To me, mainstream means volume, and volume is dominated by cheaper, sub-$400 phones," Popal says. 

"While it may be tempting for vendors to swoop in with lower selling prices to generate an initial boost in sales, I strongly believe that is not a good move – especially not at the expense of quality and user experience. 

"Foldables should remain a niche and premium flagship device. Instead, vendors should 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."

The IDC report, Worldwide Foldable Phone Forecast, 2022–2026 (Doc #US49667922), provides an overview and five-year forecast of the worldwide foldable phone market and its expansion and growth by 2026. The study also provides a look at future demand for the category, along with key players and the impact they will have on other vendors, carriers, and both consumers and business users.