Chinese Firms Lead Foldable Phone Explosion, Forcing Rapid Innovation

The foldable phone market exploded in 2023 with the launch of 18 new models, 13 of them using displays from fast-moving Chinese manufacturers like BOE and TCL CSOT, according to research firm Omdia.

Source: Omdia

The blistering pace of foldables released this year highlights the increasing competitiveness of Chinese display makers. All told, firms in China are estimated to supply a whopping 13 million foldable displays in 2024 as global demand reaches about 14.5 million units.

Chinese display makers, like TCL CSOT, have entered the market with mass produced low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) backplanes, polarizer-less technology and ultrathin cover glass. Not being first to market has not hurt them against the likes of Samsung or LG. Top display supplier BOE shipped around 1.3 million foldable displays in the third quarter, with smaller rivals China Star Optoelectronics and Visionox shipping 500,000 units and 350,000 units respectively.

All that competition has been a boon to consumers, who now have multiple folding form factors to choose from spanning a price range of $600 to $2,000. But the relentless pace of innovation has been exhausting for manufacturers forced to keep up with rivals. Still, firms are already looking ahead to even more envelope pushing designs, with rollable and expandable displays expected to come next.