The Korea Herald


Foldable phone market starts to take shape

By Song Su-hyun

Published : Feb. 15, 2021 - 16:09

    • Link copied

Huawei's Mate X2 tease (Weibo) Huawei's Mate X2 tease (Weibo)

Expectations are high on the foldable smartphone market’s growth as multiple new models are scheduled to be rolled out this year from some of tech‘s biggest names -- including Apple.

According to industry sources on Monday, the world’s three biggest smartphone vendors – Samsung Electronics, Apple and Huawei – are preparing to debut new foldable gadgets that feature advancements from initial foldable devices.

Huawei will unveil its third foldable smartphone, the Mate X2, next Monday at the opening of Mobile World Congress Shanghai, it announced through a teaser.

The Chinese tech giant will be introducing its first inward-folding smartphone, similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold series. This might hint that Huawei is seeking a major change in its foldable phone strategy to overcome its failures with its two previous models, Mate X and Mate Xs.

The first Mate X originally sported an outward-folding display, as opposed to Samsung’s inward-folding Fold.

According to leaked specifications of the upcoming Huawei device, Mate X2 is expected to feature an 8.01-inch flexible organic light-emitting diode display supplied by BOE as the main screen. It could also boast 2480 x 2200 pixel resolution and 120Hz refresh rate.

When folded, its cover display is estimated to be 6.45 inches.

On the cover display, there will be a dual selfie camera in punch-hole cutout. On the flip side, Mate X2 is expected to have a protruding quad-camera setup complete with a telephoto lens, sporting a 50MP main camera.

Huawei’s foldable phone announcement is taken as a show of the company’s determination to continue its smartphone business despite US sanctions. Its chief Ren Zhenfei also recently dismissed rumors that Huawei may pull out of the smartphone market.

Samsung, the incumbent leader in the foldable phone market, aims to cement its leadership with several new foldable designs this year.

Samsung will announce Galaxy Z Flip3 and Galaxy Z Fold3 this summer.

Although there aren’t yet many details about the upcoming Samsung foldables, some rumors suggest several upgrades would be implemented into the devices. Galaxy Z Fold3 is expected to come with an S pen stylus.

Samsung has been the pioneer of the foldable phone market by releasing the world’s first inward-folding Galaxy Fold in 2019. In 2020, the Korean vendor released the clamshell-type Galaxy Z Flip.

According to market researcher Counterpoint Research, the size of the foldable smartphone market is projected to more than double from 2.8 million units last year to 5.6 million units this year. 
A render image of foldable iPhone (BGR) A render image of foldable iPhone (BGR)

Meanwhile, Samsung’s US rival Apple is also rumored to be preparing a clamshell-style foldable iPhone that folds vertically, like the Galaxy Z Flip.

Bloomberg reported recently that Apple is in the early stages of developing a foldable iPhone. It has tested several foldable screens, including one that unfolds to a similar size as the 6.7-inch display on the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Since Apple hasn’t developed a full handset prototype, its launch would likely be around 2023, some tipsters said.

By Song Su-hyun (