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Chris Hall

Just as folding phones get exciting, two big brands are tipped to pull out

Oppo Find N2 Flip .
Quick Summary

Reports suggest that the folding phone market is going to see some disruption, with Oppo and Vivo potentially withdrawing, due to a fall in market share. Samsung dominates the market and there are rumours of rollable and three-panel folding devices approaching launch.

Folding phones have brought diversity to the smartphone market over the last couple of years, giving manufacturers the opportunity to bring a little excitement to a segment that was getting a little boring. But this fledgling market might soon lose a couple of participants, reducing the options available to buyers when selecting the best folding phone.

Folding phones typically come in two formats, there's the flip phone style and then there's the book style. The first design means that when the phone is folded, it's more compact like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5; the second design sees it get larger, allowing more screen space, like the OnePlus Open.

A report from Korea Economic Daily suggests that there's some disruption coming to the foldables market. That might see Oppo and Vivo withdrawing from the segment. The report suggests that this is because of a fall in market share as the folding phone category hots up. Oppo was widely praised for the Find N2 Flip with its larger cover display than its rivals, although that's now been eclipsed by Samsung and Motorola.

Vivo on the other hand released the Vivo X Fold 3 and Vivo X Flip in China in 2023, but these devices were launched for China only and didn't expand to global availability.

Conversely, we've seen increased competition from Google entering the market with the Pixel Fold and Motorola's continued expansion of its Razr line, which is winning fans in the US and Europe at least.

What's perhaps odd is that OnePlus, which is closely tied to Oppo, has only just launched its folding phone - and to much acclaim too.

Where do folding phones go from here?

Samsung dominates the folding phone market with its sixth-generation devices due to launch in 2024 and already enjoying over 60% of the market.

Rumours suggest that Samsung could be looking at a three-panel device, something that Huawei is also said to be investigating. Beyond that, there is ongoing talk about rollable devices, with Samsung again said to be looking at this possibility.

Samsung Display is a big manufacturer of flexible display panels, hence the company's involvement in many future developments in this category of device.

For some, the folding phone category won't really get interesting until Apple joins the fray - but that's not expected to be for a couple of years. The question is what the competition will look like at that point if other brands decide to leave the category.

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