In brief: Shipments of foldable smartphones in the third quarter of 2021 were larger than the previous four quarters combined, growing 215 percent quarter over quarter to 2.6 million units. Compared to the same period a year ago, shipments jumped 480 percent.
Samsung was responsible for 93 percent of all foldable shipments in Q3, thanks largely to the launch of the Galaxy Z Fold3 and Galaxy Z Flip3 smartphones over the summer. As Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) notes, these devices debuted at lower prices and were accompanied by strong promotional efforts and attractive trade-in offers.
Huawei, the only other major manufacturer mentioned by name, accounted for six percent of foldable shipments in Q3.
DSCC has increased its foldable smartphone shipment forecast for the full year to 7.5 million units. The outlook might have been even higher, had it not been for delays with other brands due to the ongoing semiconductor shortage.
Looking ahead, DSCC expects to see 17.5 million foldables shipped across all of 2022.
While impress compared to earlier foldable efforts, the numbers pale in comparison to traditional smartphone shipments. According to Statista, Apple shipped more than 50 million iPhones in the third quarter alone and could come close to doubling that figure this quarter, inventory willing. Until prices come down further, durability improves significantly and more players take the field, it's unlikely that foldables will challenge traditional slabs anytime soon.
Image credit Zana Latif