The Rise of Foldable Phones in the Chinese Market
As the domestic market share of foldable phones continues to expand and their popularity keeps increasing, data released by major market research institutions has shown a year-on-year increase in shipments of foldable phones in China. Among them, Huawei stands out with a leading position, maintaining its dominance. According to the “2024 China Foldable Phone Consumer Insight Report” recently published by iiMedia Research, over ten foldable phone models were released by major manufacturers in 2023, signifying a concentrated outbreak phase in the industry. Sales of foldable phones have been growing steadily in recent years, showing a rapid upward trend, and it is expected that this growth momentum will continue in 2024-2025.
The report indicates that after experiencing ten consecutive quarters of decline, the Chinese smartphone market rebounded for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2023, with the high-end market showing a counter-trend rise. Foldable phones almost single-handedly supported this rise in the high-end market. Sales of foldable phones have been rapidly increasing in recent years, and it is projected that they will continue to grow at a high speed in 2024-2025. At the same time, the market share of foldable phones in the high-end segment continues to rise, entering a phase of rapid penetration and expected to reach 20% by the end of 2025.
Looking at the overall rankings, Huawei leads with a market share of a significant 50.3%, followed by OPPO at 15.4%, Samsung at 14.5%, vivo at 11.3%, and Honor at 4.5%. Although Honor’s overall market share may not be high at the moment, judging by the timing and models of their release in the foldable phone market, the new models, especially the Honor Magic V2, pushing the thickness of foldable phones into millimeters, have received good reviews. Xiaomi ranks sixth with a market share of 4.0%.
In the ultra-high-end foldable phone market in China, Huawei maintained its top position in 2023 with a commanding 65.6% market share, followed by Samsung at 31.0%, and all other brands combined at only 3.4%. Priced above 10,000 yuan, Chinese consumers undoubtedly prefer Huawei foldable phones. However, due to the price decrease of foldable phones last year, the highest price for many brands is now around ten thousand yuan. Overall, Huawei almost monopolizes the foldable phone market in China, with all other brands combined not being its match. On average, for every two foldable phones sold, one comes from Huawei. According to the data shown in the image above, in the category of foldable phones priced over 10,000 yuan, only Huawei has sold over a million units, while other brands are below a million units.
Looking at the top 5 single-product sales of foldable phones, we see Huawei Mate X5, Huawei Mate X3, Huawei Pocket s, OPPO Find N2 Flip, and Honor Magic V2. Among the top five single-product sales, Huawei occupies three spots and secures the top three positions, with the Huawei Mate X5 being the top-selling model in China in 2023. It’s worth mentioning that the Huawei Mate X5 is the only model with shipments exceeding a million units. With the launch of the Huawei Mate X5, the foldable phone industry has started moving towards a path of being lightweight and versatile. Overall, Huawei is clearly leading the Chinese market, with other brands not even standing a chance against Huawei. # Huawei Dominates with 70% of China’s Luxury Foldable Phone Market; Mate X5 Hits Over a Million in Sales
According to a report by iResearch, products represented by Huawei Mate X5 in 2023 have ushered in a new era of foldable phones that are thin, versatile, and feature-packed. Equipped with mysterious Wuxia toughened Kunlun glass (Collector’s Edition), bi-directional Beidou satellite messaging, wireless super-fast charging, and other flagship features on top of being lightweight and slim, the Huawei Mate X5 epitomizes the new trend in foldable smartphones.
Upon the release of the lightweight and versatile Huawei Mate X5 foldable screen, it received tremendous positive feedback from the market. Looking at the various foldable screen models being gradually released, the lightweight and versatile features of the Huawei Mate X5 have become the primary trend in the development of foldable smartphones.
Specifically, Huawei, as the pioneer in entering the foldable screen industry, has shattered consumer perceptions of foldable smartphones since overcoming technological barriers. The Huawei Mate X5 Collector’s Edition adopts Wuxia toughened Kunlun glass on the outer screen, enhancing scratch resistance by 300% and making the entire device 100% more drop-resistant, thus achieving a more versatile protective effect. This significantly increases the reliability of the foldable screen itself and completely changes the market’s perception of foldable smartphones, addressing consumers’ concerns from the root. Moreover, this phone offers an exceptional photography experience; the “Universe Gate” camera module on the back not only has high recognition but also provides users with outstanding shooting capabilities.
Regarding brand recognition in the foldable screen market, both Huawei and Samsung lead the industry in terms of being the first brands mentioned for foldable smartphones and overall brand awareness. When it comes to foldable screen phone brands, Huawei is the first brand that comes to mind for more cautious consumers, accounting for 41.5% of the share and holding a dominant position in consumers’ minds. Following Huawei is Samsung, with a 31.7% share. In terms of brand influence, both Huawei and Samsung lead in brand awareness, with both brands having more than 80% and 70% shares, respectively. These rankings are actually the same; it’s just that the percentages vary depending on the direction of the survey. It’s evident that Huawei is the most recognized foldable screen phone brand domestically. # Huawei Dominates 70% of China’s Luxury Foldable Phone Market, Mate X5 Surpasses a Million in Sales
When looking at the preference for switching to foldable screens, most users who currently own foldable screens are likely to choose a foldable screen again for their next upgrade. Among users who are considering a switch, Huawei’s foldable smartphones are the most desired option. Additionally, foldable phones have become a popular choice in the high-end market. 96.7% of prospective switchers are willing to opt for a foldable screen phone in their next upgrade. Preferences of these users towards foldable screen phone brands show a tendency to lean towards leading brands, with Huawei being the top choice for over half of the prospective switchers.
Moreover, the audience for foldable screen phones is gradually expanding, particularly with a noticeable increase in high-end and female users. The report indicates that the proportion of female users has increased by 9% compared to 2022. In terms of age, the 18-29 age group, known for their love of innovation, and the 40 and above age group with stable income, represent a higher percentage, accounting for 30.6% and 43.1% respectively.
Regarding users’ expectations for the future of foldable screen phones, the focus is primarily on software function innovation. Over 90% of users are looking forward to software upgrades, hoping for more intelligent and convenient operations. They have higher expectations for aspects such as flexible split-screen operation, compatibility with office software, and smoother screen switching experiences. Six out of ten users hope for breakthroughs in future hardware devices, aiming for products with smaller form factors, larger screens, and more folding options.
Looking back at 2023, the performance of foldable screen phones has reached new heights, with products moving towards lightweight and versatile directions. In comparison to traditional flat phones lacking innovation and differentiation, foldable screen phones have effectively addressed user pain points through innovations in form, technology, and functionality. This has led to an increasing number of consumers choosing foldable screen phones as their next mobile device. In the future, as foldable screens mature in terms of pricing, thickness, and weight, it is hoped that the competition in foldable screen phones in 2024 will intensify, with prices further decreasing, making foldable screen phones more accessible to a wider audience.