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Fast Charge: 2024 could be the year that foldables go mainstream

OPINION: Compared to this time just 12 months ago, the foldable smartphone market is absolutely booming, and with no signal that it’s slowing down, 2024 could be the year that foldables make the jump from a niche to the mainstream.

This time in 2022, the only foldables readily available in the Western market were the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Z Fold 4, as well as the just-announced Motorola Razr (2022)

Fast forward 12 months, however, and the market is packed full of new entries from new players in the foldable space, including the likes of the Oppo Find N2 Flip, the Google Pixel Fold, Honor Magic Vs, and OnePlus has just released its phenomenal OnePlus Open, the most complete foldable smartphone yet. 

That’s on top of Samsung releasing its 2023 variants of its foldables, the Z Flip 5 and Z Fold 5, along with Motorola diversifying its foldable range with the premium Razr 40 Ultra and more affordable Razr 40.

That’s a roundabout way of saying that there’s a lot more choice on the market if you’re looking for a foldable, and that should have a knock-on effect on pricing. While the OnePlus Open is still more expensive than the most premium candybar alternative at £1599, it represents a price cut compared to Samsung and Google.

OnePlus Open folded slightly
OnePlus Open

It’s not only cheaper either – it’s much better than most alternatives on the market right now, fixing long-time complaints with the book-style form factor. In terms of hardware, there’s a near-indistinguishable crease on the foldable inner display, custom camera hardware designed for foldables and the fastest charging we’ve seen so far, as well as flagship performance from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset.

It’s not just hardware though; OnePlus has come closer to cracking the foldable software formula with OxygenOS 13.2, boasting unique foldable features like Open Canvas that provide an impressive alternative to the standard split-screen multitasking we’ve seen from most manufacturers up to this point.

It’s not the only promising option coming to market either. Announced back at IFA 2023, though with a release set for Q1 2024, the Honor Magic V2 looks to be the pinnacle of foldable design with a delectably thin chassis measuring in at 4.4mm thick unfolded and 9.9mm folded, and when combined with a relatively lightweight 231g build, it’s the first book-style foldable to make its way into candybar smartphone territory. 

Honor Magic V2 semi-folded
Honor Magic V2

It’s not the only foldable set for a 2024 release either; I fully expect updates to the Pixel Fold, Razr 40 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Z Flip 5 to materialise sometime during 2024 at a bare minimum. And, if the huge leaps forward in hardware we’ve seen from some manufacturers spread more evenly across the industry, we could be in for a stellar year in the foldable market.

That means the last hurdle for foldables going mainstream is price; and things are starting to look positive on that front too. The OnePlus Open has released at £1599, making it £150 cheaper than the Z Fold 5 and £200 cheaper than the Pixel Fold, and while Honor hasn’t confirmed the exact price of its upcoming V2, it has teased that it’d be in line with the £1399 Honor Magic Vs. 

Granted, it’d still make book-style foldables more expensive than premium flagships like the £1,249 Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, but the gap is certainly starting to close. That’s further improved by wider adoption of foldables from UK carriers, allowing consumers to spread the huge upfront cost of the phone over 2 or 3 years. 

It’s a similar story on the clamshell-style front too, with new budget options like the Razr 40 and Oppo Find N2 Flip in 2023 bringing the price down to sub-£900 for the foldable tech. Let’s hope that trend continues in 2024 as, combined with improved foldable hardware, it could make flip-style foldables a viable alternative to the most popular flagship smartphones. 

The ingredients are all there for a tasty 2024 in the foldable space, and I for one can’t wait to sink my teeth in.

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