ZTE managed to beat established players such as Samsung and Apple by launching the world’s first foldable smartphone in the form of Axon M. Samsung is expected to be the second to launch a foldable smartphone next year while Huawei and Apple are likely to launch their own foldable smartphone at the end of next year or sometime early in 2020.
Apart from Samsung, Huawei and Apple, other Chinese smartphone manufacturers such as Xiaomi and Oppo are also said to be working on foldable smartphone. According to Korea’s ETNews, both Xiaomi and Oppo are procuring the required components in a bid to launch foldable smartphones next year. Huawei has reportedly partnered China’s BOE Technology Group for flexible OLED panels and now, Xiaomi and Oppo are also speculated to have knocked at the doors of the Chinese supplier for components.
However, there is also a possibility that these companies might consider dealing with brands such as LG Display or Japan’s JDI for procuring flexible OLED panels. The report also sheds some light on the approach these companies plan to take with their foldable smartphones. While Samsung and Huawei are likely to launch devices that fold inward, the phones made by Xiaomi could fold outward like the Axon M. There is no clarity on whether Oppo will have an inward folding device or one with displays folding outward.
While there is no final word on the design that might be adopted by these Chinese players, one thing seems very much certain. Xiaomi’s foldable smartphone could be much cheaper than the one from its industry peers, namely Samsung and Huawei. DJ Koh, chief of Samsung’s mobile division, has confirmed that the Korean company is working on a foldable smartphone but said that it needs to overcome some technology hurdles to make a mass market product.
While Kuo has not commented on the progress of company’s effort with a foldable smartphone, it does seem to be on track. Samsung has been not really been the one to bring newest technologies to the market first. Chinese smartphone makers Vivo and Xiaomi have beaten the South Korean company with the adoption of in-display fingerprint sensor and it won’t be surprising if they beat the brand with foldable smartphones as well.
Watch: ZTE Axon M First Look
Samsung is expected to launch the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ at MWC 2019 next year as its first mobile devices to feature an in-display fingerprint sensor. The foldable smartphone is rumored to arrive at CES 2019 but that timeline might vary depending on components needed for such a design. Chinese smartphone makers, which shadowed brands like Samsung and Apple, at the time of their entry into smartphone market, have now emerged as technology leaders and for them, the immediate future would be launch foldable smartphones.