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Foldable phone shipments could more than quadruple by 2026, analyst says

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 front and back

The analyst firm IDC is predicting that foldable phone shipments will more than quadruple to 41.5 million in 2026 from the 8.1 million that shipped in 2021. It said falling prices and business use cases will drive the adoption of these devices and that they could start replacing both typical phones and tablets due to their size. Between 2022 and 2026, IDC expects to see foldable’s compound annual growth rate reach 38.7%.

Commenting on the findings, IDC’s Anthony Scarsella said:

“The recent launch of the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Fold 4 will once again shine a spotlight on the entire category as Samsung continues to be the gold standard for foldable devices in the market. The new launches from Samsung have brought incremental but critical improvements over their predecessors. The success of these devices should be a strong indicator of how foldables will evolve and capture consumers moving forward. While the price remains a pain point for consumers, the $999 starting price may be accepted by consumers given that most consumer goods have seen price increases due to inflation in 2022.”

While foldables will get quite a bit more popular over the coming years, IDC does not expect them to become mainstream in that time. Figures put out by the company that take into account foldables and other smartphones show that even in 2026, foldables will only make up 2.8% of the devices shipped in that year.

If these figures do end up accurately representing the situation in four years, it will mean that the foldable category has remained a niche, premium segment. It'll be interesting to see if any manufacturers do have a go at lowering the price down to more affordable levels, though.

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