“Foldable phones to reach 30 million units by 2023” report shows

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DJ Koh, Samsung President and CEO of IT and Mobile Communications, holds up the new Galaxy Fold smartphone during an event Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, in San Francisco. Samsung is hailing the 10th anniversary of its first smartphone with three new models that seem unlikely to reverse a sales slump in an industry recycling the same ideas. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Foldable phones will account for 5 per cent of high-end phones by 2023, amounting to 30 million units as they are expected to potentially re-inject innovation in the smartphone market, said a new report by Gartner Inc. on Monday.

Premium smartphone maker Huawei on Wednesday said it would launch its foldable 5G smartphone — Mate X in India this year.

“We expect that users will use a foldable phone as they do their regular smartphone, picking it up hundreds of times a day, unfolding it sporadically and typing on its plastic screen, which may scratch quickly depending on the way it folds,” Roberta Cozza, Research Director at Gartner, said in a statement.

“Through the next five years, we expect foldable phones to remain a niche product due to several manufacturing challenges. In addition to the surface of the screen, the price is a barrier we expect to decline with time. Currently priced at $2,000, foldable phones present too many trade-offs, even for many early technology adopters.”

Shipments of mobile phones are estimated to reach 1.8 billion units in 2019, a decline of 0.5 per cent year over year (YoY).

However, in 2020, the mobile phone market is forecast to return to growth, with a shipments increase of 1.2 per cent from 2019.

San Francisco: This photo, provided by Samsung Electronics Co., shows its foldable smartphones, the Galaxy Fold, which were introduced during an Unpacked event in San Francisco on Feb. 20, 2019.(Yonhap/IANS)

“Users have reached a threshold for new technology and applications, which means that unless new models provide significant new utility, efficiency or experiences, users don’t want or need to upgrade,” Cozza added.

Nevertheless, vendors need to realise that consumers are extending the lifetime of their phones.

The market research firm expects the average high-end phone lifetime to increase from 2.6 years to 2.8 years through 2023.