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Foldable phones to reach market value of $29B, IDC finds

By Catherine Knowles
Thu 17 Feb 2022

The worldwide market for foldable phones is forecast to reach 27.6 million units with a market value of $29 billion in 2025, according to IDC.

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 have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 69.9% from 2020 to 2025.

According to the analysts, 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.

IDC states, 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.

IDC worldwide quarterly mobile phone tracker research manager, Anthony Scarsella, says, "The recent success of the foldable devices from Samsung has given new life to the category as competitors rush to enter the market.

"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."

IDC worldwide quarterly mobile phone tracker Mabila Popal says, "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. 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."

The IDC report, Worldwide Foldable Phone Forecast, 2021–2025, provides an overview and five-year forecast of the worldwide foldable phone market and its expansion and growth by 2025. 

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