Foldable phone tech at least two years away from opening out | Mobile | News | Rapid TV News
By continuing to use this site you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our privacy policy unless you have disabled them. You can change your cookie settings at any time but parts of our site will not function correctly without them. [Close]
They may have been the talk of the recent edition of MWC, but smartphones with foldable screen technology will not make any discernible impact on the market until 2021 at the earliest says research from WitsView.
Huawei foldable 5G 25Feb2019
Following a similar launch by arch rival Samsung, Huawei unveiled at MWC 2019 multiple products that it claims will bring ‘outstanding’ high-speed connectivity to users including the 5G foldable smartphone HUAWEI Mate X, described by the company as a “a voyage into uncharted territory.”

The launch of such advanced technology is seen as essential differentiation points as ‘traditional’ smartphones become almost commoditised in terms of technology. As a result says WitsView suppliers are looking to foldable phones as a potential demand-stimulating design.

Yet despite the welter of good publicity, WitsView cautioned that foldable phones are still in the stages of market-response observation and product-design adjustment and predicts that in 2019 they will account for only a meagre smartphone market penetration rate of 0.1% in 2019. It predicts that foldable phones penetration rates will have to wait until more panel providers join the game and panel costs see significant improvements for a chance to rise above 1% in 2021 and accelerate past 3.4% in 2022.

In addition to making in-depths comparisons on the different folding technologies used by Samsung and Huawei, WitsView observed that the product genre’s success depends on the mass production of flexible OLED displays. It warns that at present there is a lack of suppliers able to provide a steady flow of foldable panels. Samsung relies on its own panels and isn't worried about supply shortage; Huawei on the other hand is dependent on China's panel manufacturers, but WitsView believes that in this regard the scale may still be limited by current technology and yield rate. Other smartphone brands suffer from a lack of stable panel supply, which may prove to be the bigger bottleneck in the early stages of foldable-phone developments.

Going forward, WitsView expects that China's panel manufacturers will allow its newfound flexible AMOLED production capacity to contribute to production in the coming 2 to 3 years and that they will catch up with Korean panel manufacturers in flexible AMOLED production capacity after 2020. Furthermore, such devices will likely be boosted by the mass availability of 5G networks by this time and soon after.