Foldable phones achieve record-breaking sales this latest quarter

Shawn Knight

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In brief: The third quarter of 2023 marked a historic period for foldable smartphones, with Samsung leading the way. The celebration could be short lived, however, as the handset maker is expected to lose significant market share in Q4.

According to a new report from Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC), foldable smartphone shipments increased 16 percent year over year and 215 percent quarter over quarter in Q3, totaling seven million units. The figure beat expectations and topped the previous high of 6.1 million units shipped in Q3 of 2022.

DSCC said Samsung accounted for 72 percent of the foldable smartphone market in Q3. That is down from 86 percent a year ago but still leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. Huawei finished in second place with just a nine percent share followed by Honor with eight percent. For the full year, foldable smartphone shipments are expected to reach 15.8 million units – an increase of 23 percent compared to 2022.

Samsung owes much of its success to its two best-selling foldable models, the Galaxy S Flip 5 and the Galaxy Z Fold 5, which captured 45 percent and 24 percent market share in Q3, respectively.

The gap between first place and everyone else is expected to narrow significantly in Q4, however. According to DSCC, Samsung's brand share could fall to around 40 percent with Huawei and Honor climbing closer to the 20 percent mark.

DSCC CEO Ross Young said 2023 has been a mixed year for foldables. The sector benefited from Huawei regaining its footing, new entrants like Google and OnePlus, and overall improvements to device thickness and weight, but the overall sluggishness of the high-end Android market has been a hindrance.

Have you had an opportunity to experience a foldable yet? I had some hands-on time with a Motorola Razr recently and while I was impressed with the image quality of the display, its plastic nature and visible crease was a bit of a turn off.

Image credit: Imad Clicks

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It's the best innovation in smartphones in a decade, so it's not surprising. I absolutely adore my Fold 3. Perfect size for one hand use when folded shut, and absolutely incredible display when folded open.
The ONE thing I do not like about it is that due to how thin it needs to be on each side, they can't fit a whole flagship camera stack in there so quality is lesser.
 
Spent 2 years with a Fold 3 and got a Fold 5. Excellent devices. As long as I can keep getting credit and deals that limit the cost of the device to around 1000 USD, I'm never going back.

The moment I have to fork over 1800, though, I'll happily go back to a Pixel.
 
Spent 2 years with a Fold 3 and got a Fold 5. Excellent devices. As long as I can keep getting credit and deals that limit the cost of the device to around 1000 USD, I'm never going back.

The moment I have to fork over 1800, though, I'll happily go back to a Pixel.
Samsung's credits are very solid. I have been buying ultra even though I do not need latest and best because of those offers.
I doubt these offers will last forever though. They do not make nearly as much after millions of people use these credits.
 
I was very impressed with fold phones until the Fold 4 I own failed in slightly more than a year. The internal screen don’t work anymore, and opening the phone up will cause the device to freeze and needs a hard reboot. While the failure rate have declined over the years, I feel the technology is inherently less durable since the phone needs to toggle between the outside and inside screen. I reckoned something went wrong with the sensor to switch the external to the internal screen when I open the phone up, and it failed to enable the internal screen.
 
They are nice, once you get used to them. I remember at the times of the first iPhone many thought it was a weird one, but it changed later. Fold 5 looks like a very solid product.
 
Foldability is hardly a reason for such a difference in price. Until such time as the difference is only $50 or so I won't buy one and as they say, the more moving parts the greater the chance of failure has never been more true.
 
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