Foldable Smartphones to witness 638% jump in sales in CY 2021, expected to touch 300,000 units sales in 2022.

  • Foldable smartphones to contribute over 6% of Luxe category sales contribution in 2022 by volumes.  The form factor has the potential to improve profitability of brands operating in luxe segment.
  • In 2022, 3-4 smartphone OEMs expected to launch foldable smartphone form factor giving consumers wider choice.  However, Samsung to have an edge as it will be ready with its 4th generation of foldables by the time.
  • Samsung is the only smartphone OEM with commercially available foldable smartphones for the past 3 years. The revenues from foldable smartphone sales for Samsung in India expected to cross Rs 2,000 crore by the end of calendar year 2021.  This will be close to 5% of Samsung’s total revenues from smartphones in India.

Gurugram, India: In the feature phone / early smartphone era Motorola, Nokia and Samsung were among few mobile OEMs which had introduced flip / cover phones separating a physical keyboard and the screen. Back then, it was a breakthrough giving users a larger screen which was otherwise halved due to space consumed by a physical keyboard.  The phones were very popular then.  Nokia communicator was more from business perspective while Motorola and Samsung flip phones were trendy among consumers.

In the present smartphone era, Samsung led the industry by unveiling a foldable smartphone which was followed by some more OEMs who showcased a prototype since.  Motorola was another brand which also launched a Flip smartphone along with LG Wing which was a different flavour of a foldable smartphone.

Figure 1: Foldable Smartphone Sales by Units

Among the smartphone OEMs only Samsung has been able to establish itself as a technology leader through successful R&D and commercialisation of foldable form factor.  With the result, the foldable smartphones have seen acceptability in the market resulting in uptake of its sales in 2021, when Samsung launched 3rd generation of Samsung Galaxy Z Fold as well as Samsung Galaxy Z Flip.  Both the foldable smartphones have seen good response from the market, though foldable form factor sells more than the flip form factor.

The foldable smartphone form factor has not only helped Samsung to establish as a technology leader, but also established as a promising revenue opportunity for the brand which will excite other OEMs also to jump into the opportunity.

For Samsung, foldable smartphone form factor is expected to fetch over Rs 2,000 crore of revenues in calendar year 2021, which will be equal to around 5% of company’s revenues from the smartphone business.  This will translate into 7 times growth in foldable smartphone revenues for the company comparing calendar year 2020.

Going forward in 2022, the foldable smartphone revenues are expected grow by 60% which will translate in Rs 3,200 crore of revenues for the industry that will include Samsung and a few more OEMs expected to launch their foldable smartphones in 2022.  In terms of sales volumes, the market is likely to cross 300,000 units in 2022, which will be close to 7% of the luxe segment of smartphones.

The foldable smartphones offer unique proposition for users in the luxe segment, and going forward in premium and sub-premium segments, where the users can continue using the smartphones without any compromise on the pocketability (portability) of the smartphones as well as transform it for rich content consumption that includes videos, reading and gaming in some cases.