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China's Foldable Smartphone Shipments Soar in 2023 as Huawei Maintains Market Lead

China's foldable smartphone shipments more than doubled in 2023, reaching 7.01 million units. Huawei maintained its position as the top vendor in the foldable handset segment, with a 37.4% market share. Booklet-style foldable models gained popularity, accounting for 68.1% of the segment.

The foldable smartphone market in China experienced significant growth in 2023, with shipments more than doubling despite overall weakness in the country's smartphone market. Huawei Technologies, the Chinese tech giant, continued to dominate the foldable handset segment, maintaining its position as the top vendor.


According to a report by tech market research firm IDC, mainland China saw a remarkable increase in foldable smartphone shipments, reaching 7.01 million units in 2023. This marked a staggering 114% growth compared to the 3.2 million units shipped in 2022. The segment has consistently achieved triple-digit annual growth since the introduction of the first foldable models in 2019.


Huawei, based in Shenzhen, led the foldable smartphone segment with a commanding 37.4% market share. The popularity of its Mate X5 model, launched in September, drove Huawei's success. Major competitors Oppo and Honor, formerly a budget smartphone brand under Huawei, held 18.3% and 17.7% market shares, respectively. Samsung Electronics, a global leader in foldable phone shipments, ranked fourth in the Chinese market with an 11% share.

The growth of the foldable smartphone segment can be attributed to both hardware and software improvements in various models, as well as lower prices that have made these handsets more accessible to consumers. Despite a decline of 5% in overall handset shipments in China, reaching 271.3 million units, the demand for foldable phones provided a bright spot in an otherwise sluggish market.


IDC analyst Guo Tianxiang emphasized that "thinness" and "lightness" are increasingly influencing consumers' choice of foldable smartphone brand. While clamshell-type foldable phones remained popular, IDC data revealed that booklet-style models gained more ground in the Chinese market. These booklet models, exemplified by Huawei's Mate X5, accounted for 68.1% of the segment, up from 57.7% in 2022. Business professionals, particularly those working remotely, have shown a preference for these premium foldable phones, which offer a tablet-sized display when fully opened.


It is worth noting that foldable phones still represent a small fraction of overall smartphone shipments in China and globally. Apple, which surpassed Samsung as the world's top smartphone vendor in 2023, has yet to release a foldable model. However, Apple remains the "undisputed leader" in the global premium smartphone market, commanding a dominant 71% share in handsets priced from $600, according to a report by Counterpoint Research.


Rumors suggest that Apple is currently developing prototypes for a clamshell iPhone, as reported by online tech media outlet The Information. While the foldable smartphone market continues to evolve, Apple's entry into this segment could potentially reshape the landscape.

 
  • China's foldable smartphone shipments more than doubled in 2023, reaching 7.01 million units.

  • Huawei maintained its position as the top vendor in the foldable handset segment, with a 37.4% market share.

  • Booklet-style foldable models gained popularity, accounting for 68.1% of the segment.


Source: SCMP

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