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Foldable phones predicted to remain niche products

Foldable phones will remain a niche part of the wider smartphone market for the foreseeable future, according to a new analyst report.

Despite all the hype, foldable phones represent just 1.1% of the smartphone market. That’s the claim being made by IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker (via The Register), which is projecting foldable sales of just 13.5 million units in 2022.

To supply some much needed context here, this figure is stacked against 1.352 billion smartphones sales in total for the year.

“The biggest question today is whether foldables will become mainstream anytime soon? Unfortunately, the answer is no,” said research director Nabila Popal.

Sales of foldables like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 are expected to increase far quicker than regular non-foldable phones over the next four year, but this will still only represent a bump up to a niche 2.8% of the market by 2026, according to the report.

According to Popal, foldable manufacturers like Samsung, Oppo, and Microsoft could accelerate that increase by releasing a foldable phone for around the magic $400 mark. Right now, they routinely sell for three to four times that amount.

However, Popal doesn’t believe that manufacturers should stoop to such budget foldable offerings just yet. “I strongly believe that is not a good move – especially not at the expense of quality and user experience,” he said. “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 three percent of global volume by the end of our forecast period.”

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