Story image

High cost means the foldable phone fad won’t catch on in 2019

08 Mar 2019

Foldable phones have exploded onto the scene, with Samsung and Huawei both revealing their latest innovations at Mobile World Congress 2019.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X are both groundbreaking smartphones that can be transformed into small tablets.

“We created Galaxy Fold for those that want to experience what a premium foldable device can do, beyond the limitations of a traditional smartphone,” comments Samsung IT & Mobile Communications Division president and CEO DJ Koh.

While a completely different design, Huawei’s foldable phone follows the same principles in that, yes, it is foldable too.

Other smartphone vendors have thrown their hats into the ring too. Xiaomi has released videos of a prototype foldable phone with a screen capable of folding not once but twice, seemingly without any seams. And there’s no forgetting Apple, with tech publication The Verge discovering that Apple has filed a patent application for its own foldable phone with hinges.

However, despite all this, research analyst Canalys says while it’s inevitable that more vendors will jump in on the fad, it won’t be gaining much traction in 2019.

Canalys asserts foldable devices will remain exclusively ‘ultra-luxury’ with less than 2 million shipped worldwide in 2019.

“Foldable phones are now in mass production, and vendors have set realistic expectations for their sales performance,” says 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.”

Canalys senior analyst Ben Stanton says cost is the key factor that will hinder adoption among the mainstream.

“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,” says Stanton.

“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.”

Apple launches revamped iPad Air & iPad mini
Apple loves tinkering with its existing product lines and coming up with new ways to make things more powerful – and both the iPad Air and iPad mini seem to be no exception.
Epson innovations and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport
The world’s greatest motorsport event, the Formula One Grand Prix World Championship, descended on Melbourne’s Albert Park over the weekend for the first race of the 2019 season.
Tesla unveils the Model Y SUV
After much anticipation, Tesla unveiled the Model Y last week – a vehicle that is described as an all-electric, mid-size SUV that can seat seven adults – and the vehicle has a glass roof.
Preparation for Tokyo 2020 Olympics begins - with robots
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are quickly approaching, but it won’t just be a sea of athletes and sports fans – now robots will make up a significant part of the fan experience.
NZ ISPs block internet footage of Christchurch shootings
2degrees, Spark, Vodafone and Vocus are now blocking any website that shows footage of the mosque shootings.
How AI could warn civilians before a volcanic eruption
Advance monitoring could lead to better disaster planning and evacuation warnings in the event of an eruption.
Facebook launches dedicated home for its Gaming
"All of our work on the Facebook Gaming team adds up to helping build the world's gaming community."
Spotify calls out Apple's anti-competitive behaviour
Apple's App Store rules "purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience—essentially acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers".