Foldable Smartphones Will Continue to Remain Expensive Due to Shortage of Key Components, Such as Hinges

Mar 26, 2019
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Although foldable smartphones are expected to be the next big thing in the industry, their supply is likely to be limited in the near future, according to a new report. Although the latest report talks about supply-side constraints, previously Samsung had said that it will be producing its foldable phones in limited quantities, presumably to gauge market response.

Similarly, only Huawei and Royole have revealed their foldable handsets so far, with other manufacturers planning to release their offerings later this year or next year. So, it isn’t surprising to see this new report talk about limited supply, although it presents a new perspective.

Related LG Will Attempt to Make the Future of Smartphones Rollable, Not Foldable, According to Latest Trademark Filings

The Key Components Required For Foldable Smartphones Are Expected To Remain Scarce Until 2020

According to the new report from DigiTimes, the initial deliveries of the foldable phones would be constrained because the main components such as OLED displays and hinges would be limited in supply, and thus, pricey. Apparently, the hinges that would be used in foldable handsets would be 10 times stronger than the ones used in laptops. Moreover, these hinges are also expected to be a lot thinner than the notebook hinges. Because of the higher quality requirements, mass production of hinges meant for flexible handsets isn’t expected to begin before 2020.

Although different OEMs might adopt different form factors and designs, such as inward-folding and outward-folding approaches as well as the Z-folding method which Google hinted at, sources close to the matter say that the underlying folding technology isn’t expected to differ a lot.

The hinges meant for foldable smartphones would be made using the metal injection molding or MIM technology. To meet the increasing demand, hinge makers are expected to invest more in increasing their capacity. The sources also added that Taiwanese companies Shin Zu Shing (SZS) and Jarllytec have ramped up their efforts to cash in on the latest trend.

With increasing supply, we can also expect the prices of foldable smartphones to go down eventually. At around $2,000, foldable handsets aren’t expected to be accessible for everyone this year. In fact, Samsung is going to market its Galaxy Fold as something of a luxury product, which is understandable, given its price tag.

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Source: DigiTimes

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