Samsung Dominating Foldable Smartphone Market, Big Changes Coming in 2021

Published December 14, 2020

DSCC has released the second issue of its Quarterly Foldable/Rollable Display Shipment and Technology Report. Highlights of the Q4’20 issue include:

  • Foldable panel shipments are expected to rise 454% in 2020 to 3.1M units in 2020. Foldable panel revenues are expected to rise 394% to $462M. Shipments and revenues are below earlier expectations as US restrictions prevented Huawei from launching the Mate X2, an 8” in-folding device which was expected to drive a lot of volume in Q4’20.
  • Samsung is clearly the dominant brand in 2020 with over a 90% share in Q3’20 and Q4’20 on a panel procurement basis and an 87% share for the year. On a brand shipment basis, its share is even higher for 2020 at 88%.

Quarterly Foldable Smartphone Brand Unit Share (Sell-In)

Source: DSCC’s Quarterly Foldable/Rollable Display Shipment and Technology Report
  • By model, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and the Z Fold 2 are expected to be the two best-selling foldables in 2020 on both a unit and revenue basis. In Q3’20 on a panel procurement basis, the Z Fold 2 led with a 65% share followed by the Z Flip 5G with a 27% share. On a device shipment basis, the Z Flip led Q3’20 with a 43% share.
  • Korea was the #1 region for Samsung’s foldable smartphones in 2020 with more than a 40% share followed by Europe.
  • By form factor, in-folding led in Q3’20 with a 69% share on a panel procurement basis, leading for the first time since Q4’19. For the year, clamshells are expected to lead with nearly a 60% share.
  • In terms of cover material on a panel procurement basis, ultra-thin glass (UTG) led with a 92% share in Q3’20 and is expected to lead in 2020 at 84%.
  • 120Hz refresh rates led for the first time in Q3’20 as did LTPO backplanes.
  • 5G also accounted for a majority of foldable devices for the first time in Q3’20.
  • Qualcomm is the dominant chipset supplier accounting for a 96% share in 2020 with the Snapdragon 855+ and 865+ splitting over 80% of the market.
  • SDC accounted for 96% of the foldable panels shipped in Q3’20 and is expected to have an 87% share for all of 2020.
  • Shipments are provided on a panel procurement, device production and device sell-in timeline.
  • The results section also includes share by month/quarter/year for area, revenues, average size, average price, price band, resolution, DPI, UTG/CPI/HC/Polarizer supplier, touch sensor type, touch sensor supplier, # of cameras, battery capacity, 5G type, memory, storage, etc.

The report also delves into the change in strategy at market leaders Samsung Electronics and Samsung Display which will boost the market outlook for foldables in 2021 and beyond. Samsung Electronics is increasing its emphasis on foldables and de-emphasizing its Note series which will make its foldable Z Series their 2nd flagship series. At least 3 foldables are expected from Samsung in 2021. In addition, Samsung Display is expected to become more aggressive in helping other brands enter the foldable market by selling them panels for the first time in 2021 including making UTG cover solutions available. It is not in Samsung Display’s interest to have just one major brand dominating the foldable market, so DSCC expects to see at least four other major smartphone brands enter the foldable smartphone market in 2021.

The latest report also gives another reason for optimism in this space and that is the opportunity in rollable displays. The pros and cons of rollable devices are explored, and a forecast is provided by brand, size, resolution, etc. in units and revenues with initial shipments in 2021. The report also looks at what new developments are coming which will make foldable panels thinner as well as expected improvements in UTG substrates.

The latest report also reveals the latest outlook for foldable notebooks and tablets including market entry information from a number of suppliers. It also provides detailed cost analysis for foldable smartphone and notebook panels at a bill of materials level as well as a 4-year forecast of foldable panel costs, prices and margins.

Finally, a forecast is provided which shows a bright outlook for foldable and rollable panels. DSCC’s latest forecast shows a 97% CAGR to 94M foldable panels covering all applications. In smartphones, foldables are expected to grow at an 80% CAGR to 59M panels with rollables growing at a 121% CAGR to 24M panels. On a revenue basis, foldable/rollable panels are expected to grow at an 88% CAGR to $11B with smartphones growing at an 81% CAGR to $9.1B. On an area basis, 117% CAGR is forecasted to 2.1M square meters with the average foldable panel diagonal across all applications growing from 7.1” in 2020 to 8.4” in 2025.

Foldable Panel Forecast by Application

Source: DSCC’s Quarterly Foldable/Rollable Display Shipment and Technology Report

The forecast section also includes projections for:

  • Shipments by application in units and revenues revealing both panel and device revenues.
  • Foldable vs. rollable units and size share within each segment;
  • Size forecast and average size;
  • Forecasted brand and panel supplier share;
  • Clamshell vs. In-fold vs. Multi-Fold vs. Out-fold forecast;
  • UTG vs. CPI;
  • Refresh rate and backplane technology;
  • 4G vs. 5G;
  • Price band and average price;
  • Touch type
  • And many more parameters.

For more information on DSCC’s Quarterly Foldable/Rollable Display Shipment and Technology Report, please contact

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Written by

Ross Young