Foldable phones will account for 5% of high-end phones by 2023, amounting to 30 million units as they are expected to potentially re-inject innovation in the smartphone market, said a new report by Gartner Inc. on Monday. "We expect that users will use a foldable phone as they do their regular smartphone, picking it up hundreds of times a day, unfolding it sporadically and typing on its plastic screen, which may scratch quickly depending on the way it folds," Roberta Cozza, Research Director at Gartner, said in a statement.
"Through the next five years, we expect foldable phones to remain a niche product due to several manufacturing challenges. In addition to the surface of the screen, the price is a barrier we expect to decline with time. Currently priced at $2,000, foldable phones present too many trade-offs, even for many early technology adopters."
Shipments of mobile phones are estimated to reach 1.8 billion units in 2019, a decline of 0.5% year over year (YoY).
However, in 2020, the mobile phone market is forecast to return to growth, with a shipments increase of 1.2% from 2019.
"Users have reached a threshold for new technology and applications, which means that unless new models provide significant new utility, efficiency or experiences, users don't want or need to upgrade," Cozza added.
Nevertheless, vendors need to realise that consumers are extending the lifetime of their phones. The market research firm expects the average high-end phone lifetime to increase from 2.6 years to 2.8 years through 2023.