India a lucrative market for super-premium foldable phones

New Delhi, Jan 19 (IANS) The shipments of foldable, flexible or rollable display phones will grow to reach 228 million in 2028 globally, according to technology and strategic guidance firm ABI Research, and India is likely to be a major contributor, thanks to a stellar performance by Samsung Galaxy Fold.

The South Korean tech giant has sold nearly 4 lakh Galaxy Fold smartphones globally, while Chinese telecom and handset giant Huawei has claimed that it is selling 1 lakh units of its foldable ‘Mate X’ in China every month.

This new segment of dual-purpose devices which features a large-screen like a tab with the portability of a phone is expected to expand their customer base in India among millennials, according to industry experts.

“Our consumer insights have consistently highlighted the fact that today’s smartphones have become an extension of the user’s lifestyle choices,” Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR, told IANS.

“There is no doubt that high-end premium foldable smartphones are here to stay. In the long run, flexible display technologies will continue to shape the future of consumer electronics, going beyond just smartphones,” Ram added.

Other smartphones makers like Motorola and LG are also likely to enter the India market with foldable devices which would provide more options to the buyers.

Foldable phone is currently an ultra-premium category with a limited customer base that can afford these new devices, but once the technology gets mature, it will definitely get adopted by the masses.

“I think the ultra-premium category is still a niche, especially the high-end premium buyers of over Rs 75,000 phones are 98 per cent iPhone buyers and Apple loyalists. Android in high-end foldable segment will have few affluent early adopters and only the second or third version of foldables will see greater acceptance in the market,” elaborated Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research.

It is not easy for the companies to win new customers for foldable smartphones.

Samsung with its Galaxy Fold, and Huawei with its Mate X that got delayed owing to various issues, may cause concern for consumers looking to adopt a foldable device.

“Initial foldable smartphones have had issues around their device durability. These were expected as the flexible display technology and form factors were very new which have since been ironed out in the subsequent iterations,” Ram noted.

Galaxy Fold is priced at Rs 1,64,999 but the company is expected to launch another foldable smartphone — ‘Galaxy Z Flip’ — on February 11 at an event in San Francisco that is expected to cost around $1,000.

Motorola’s first foldable smartphone in a clamshell design is also set to make its way into India. Motorola teased the India launch of the Razr (2019) through a tweet last month. However, it did not provide any concrete release date or pricing details.

Huawei Mate X is expected to arrive in India soon with a likely price tag of Rs 1.85 lakh.

According to Anshul Gupta, Senior Research Director at Gartner, we are amid first-gen foldable smartphones with phones like Galaxy Fold, Mate X.

“This is just the beginning and the category is set to evolve with many new form factors and use cases to come in the future. It’s for the tech enthusiast currently but will surely expand as the technology matures,” Gupta told IANS.

Xiaomi has teased the market with its Mi Mix Alpha concept phone that may cost around a whopping Rs 2.5 lakh, according to reports. Do the maths at home as to what else can you buy for Rs 2.5 lakh.

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