ZTE, a Chinese smartphone maker, is expected to release a foldable smartphone in advance of Samsung Electronics.
According to market research firm Strategy Analytics (SA) on October 2, it is expected that a foldable smartphone is expected to start selling next year and sell 700,000 units in the global market. SA expected that foldable mobile phone will be a concept product rather than a commercial product.
It is forecast that sales of foldable smartphones will increase from 700,000 units next year to 3.2 million units in 2019 and 13.6 million units in 2020 and 30.4 million units in 2021, and 510 million units in 2022. Its percentage in total smartphones will be less than 1%, 1.6% in 2021 and 2.5% in 2022.
A product with a "rollable" display more advanced than a foldable display is also expected to hit the market one year after the launch of a foldable smartphone. A rollable display can be rolled up like a piece of paper.
SA projected that sales of rollable smartphones will amount to 2.1 million units (0.1%) in 2019 and 2.3 million (0.12%) in 2020, 14.7 million units (0.8%) in 2021 and 3.14 million units (1.6%) in 2022.
"We are preparing a foldable smartphone for next year," said Koh Dong-Jin, head of wireless business at Samsung Electronics in the Media Day event in honor of the launch of Galaxy Note 8 in Korea on September 12, drawing a lot of attention from those in the smartphone industry.
Moreover, it is said that ZTE will take the wrap off a foldable smartphone in a new product launch event in New York City on Oct. 17 and release its folder blueprints prior to Samsung Electronics. "ZTE will unveil its dual-screen foldable phone AXON M which is 6.8 inches wide when it is unfolded," said Android Authority, a US IT media outlet. "This product will replace big-screen devices such as PCs and laptops." Android Authority explained that AXON M can be used as a normal smartphone if it is folded and run different applications simultaneously on a dual screen.
Before long, the first foldable smartphone will come out but experts say that there is still a technical problem to solve before it is mass produced. "We need to secure enough durability so that folded parts can consistently achieve the same level of quality," an industry observer said. "For now, mass production technology is not available, which pushes its price up high. It's a troubling part whether or not a foldable phone has that much value."
Koh Dong-jin, CEO of Samsung Electronics also announced a plan to release the foldable phone, saying, "We are now in the process of overcoming some problems, so we will release the product when we can solve this problem."