Thursday, 28 February 2019 10:55

Foldable smartphones not expected to go mainstream this year

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Foldable smartphones not expected to go mainstream this year Courtesy Huawei

More vendors are expected to come up with foldable smartphones in the wake of the release of the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X, but the analyst firm Canalys does not expect more than two million devices to ship this year.

The devices are expected to remain exclusively ultra-luxury devices and will not go mainstream in 2019, the company said.

"Foldable phones are now in mass production, and vendors have set realistic expectations for their sales performance," said Canalys senior director Nicole Peng.

"Samsung and Huawei will account for the majority of foldable smartphones shipped in 2019. But high shipment numbers are not the priority. The goal is to capture consumer awareness, and each vendor wants to prove it can achieve the greatest technological advances with its new industrial designs."

Senior analyst Ben Stanton said cost was the key factor that would hinder adoption. The Samsung phone is more than US$2000 while the Huawei one is closer to US$2600.

"The 'fold-out' design (with the screen on the outside, as used on the Mate X) will eventually lend itself to cheaper devices, as manufacturers won't need to include as many cameras, nor a second 'outside' screen (which the Samsung has), and the bend on the flexible screen won't need to be as tight," he said.

"But these devices will come too late to affect this year's shipment numbers significantly.

"In 2019, vendors offering foldable phones must ensure excellent quality and durability. Any early teething problems or breakages will sour the foldable form-factor before it has had a chance to get going."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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