The world of foldable phones appears to be just about as healthy as it ever has. Gone are the days when your choice was limited to Samsung or a different Samsung – like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 or the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. Users have now got more options than ever before thanks to new arrivals like the Oppo Find N2 Flip and the Motorola Razr.
That isn't showing any signs of slowing down, either. The Google Pixel Fold has been slated to make an appearance soon, alongside a OnePlus Fold which was teased at MWC 2023. It seems like just about everyone is getting in on the act.
That shouldn't come as any surprise, either. In the last few years, the market has gone from strength to strength, even as sales for the wider market struggled. From a commercial perspective, it seems like a no brainer.
That is until now. New figures suggest that the sales of foldable smartphones have dropped for the first time ever. According to Android Headlines (opens in new tab), worldwide sales in Q4 2022 dropped by 48% compared to Q3 2022, and 26% compared to Q4 2021. That could be cause for concern for manufacturers, but I don't think it needs to be.
Even if we ignore the calamitous economic situation in various parts of the world right now – tough though that may be – there is a very good reason why I believe sales have dwindled. In short, things are good right now, but they look set to get even better.
Since those figures were collected, the Find N2 Flip was released. That looks set to be a hit, bringing foldable technology to an all-new low price point and making it more accessible for consumers. That, combined with details of other new models may well have caused consumers to wait in the hopes of something better, cheaper, or just more suited to their needs, coming along.
What's more, with concepts like the Motorola Rizr making headlines, it seems clear that the future of non-traditional display smartphones might not be confined to folding. The display on that handset extends upwards with a double press of the power button, like a way more Star Trek version of old school slide phones.
Personally, I don't believe there's anything bigger at play here. There's very clearly a market for these handsets, even when their price far outstrips the average for a traditional slab phone. To me, the slowdown just seems like an unfortunate by-product of the pace of innovation. After all, six months ago we didn't have half of these phones – so imagine what we'll have in another six!