Global shipments of foldable smartphones surge 148% in 2021

Foldable smartphones have flexible screens that allow users to fold them horizontally and vertically. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - About 8.9 million foldable smartphones were shipped worldwide last year (2021) - a 148 per cent increase from 2020.

This is despite the overall smartphone market growing by only 7 per cent last year, reported market research firm Canalys last month (February).

Foldable smartphones have flexible screens that allow users to fold them horizontally and vertically, such as the Samsung Galaxy Flip 3 and Huawei Mate X2.

They account for about 0.7 per cent of last year's global smartphone shipments, said Canalys in response to queries from The Straits Times.

The demand for foldable smartphones last year mainly came from the United States, South Korea and China.

The major vendors are Samsung, Huawei, Lenovo, Xiaomi and Oppo.

"Considering launch time and global coverage, Samsung has a share of more than 90 per cent of foldable smartphone shipments in 2021," said Canalys.

It added in its report that the key factor in the rise of foldable smartphone sales last year was the increasing use of large-screen devices during the pandemic.

"As consumers are constantly looking for a better experience on their day-to-day mobile devices, the bar has now been set even higher by the productivity and entertainment experience on large screens," the firm added.

"As the world continues to reopen, it brings new opportunities for smartphone vendors to provide products such as foldable smartphones that can fulfil consumers' needs and desires."

A check by ST showed that foldable smartphones sold by official vendors in Singapore are available from about $1,400.

But prices can rise to about $3,800, such as for the Huawei Mate Xs.

In contrast, the price of an iPhone 13 Pro Max here starts from about $1,650.

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