You’ll never guess who replaced Samsung as the world’s top foldables manufacturer in Q1

You’ll never guess who replaced Samsung as the world’s top foldables manufacturer in Q1

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Since the start of the modern foldable era in 2019 with the release of the Galaxy Fold, the top name in foldables has been Samsung. The South Korean manufacturer added to its lead with the release of the Galaxy Z Flip clamshell the following year. And at the end of each year, Samsung would sit alone at the top of the charts as the top foldable phone manufacturer worldwide.
But after a strong first quarter of 2024 during which shipments of these handsets soared 49% year-over-year, the global foldables market has a new leader and it is Huawei. Because of U.S. sanctions that prohibit foundries using U.S. tech to ship 5G chips to Huawei, during last year’s first quarter the company’s foldable portfolio was made up entirely of phones that supported LTE connectivity. 

Now that the Chinese manufacturer can obtain 5G chips from China’s largest foundry SMIC (even if they are two generations old at 7nm), 84% of Huawei’s foldable phones support 5G which helped the company score a huge 257% year-over-year gain in Q1 global foldable shipments this year. Huawei’s first 5G inward folding book-style foldable, the Mate X5, was released in the third quarter and has been one of the top-selling foldables in China. 

Out of the top four foldable manufacturers worldwide, only Samsung reported a decline in global shipments on an annual basis. Part of the 42% drop in worldwide foldable shipments suffered by Samsung in Q1 was the result of a major change. For the first time since 2021, during the first quarter of 2024 book-style foldables shipped more units than clamshells by a 55%-45% margin.

Huawei’s leading 35% share of the global foldable market for the three months from January through March of this year was a huge surge from Q1 2023 when it owned only 14% of the market. Samsung, on the other hand, saw its share drop from a leading 58% to 23% over the course of a year. In third place was Honor, The former Huawei sub-unit saw its foldable shipments rise by 460% from Q1 2023 to Q1 2024. The company’s market share in foldables was 12% compared to only 3% for Q1 2023. The Honor Magic V2 was the most shipped foldable phone in Western Europe in Q1 2024.
Motorola had the largest year-over-year increase in foldable shipments worldwide with a whopping 1473% gain giving the Razr manufacturer 11% of the market globally. The basic Razr (2023) model was a big hit in North America during the first quarter.
Counterpoint says to expect Samsung to bounce back thanks to the upcoming Galaxy Z Flip 6 (to be unveiled in July) and clamshell foldables also should bounce back thanks to the new Galaxy Z Flip model and a new low-priced clamshell from Huawei.

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