Huawei Looking to Beat Samsung to World’s First Foldable Smartphone

We have heard a lot about Samsung’s foldable smartphone plans so far, but Chinese smartphone giant Huawei is looking to beat Samsung in its own game by releasing the world’s first foldable handset.

While Huawei does not make its own OLED panels like Samsung, it will be sourcing foldable OLED panels from Chinese display maker BOE. Unlike Samsung, Huawei’s first batch of foldable smartphones will be limited to around 20,000 to 30,000 units. However, the company is more interested in being the first to the market with a foldable smartphone to make the whole world sit up and take notice of its smartphones instead of ensuring its foldable smartphones gets into the hands of as many people as possible.

“Huawei’s planned volume could be limited to some 20,000 to 30,000 units, or even less, for a small group of first-wave adopters,” one person familiar with Huawei’s plan said. “The effort is mainly to demonstrate its technology capability and to attract the industry’s attention and media coverage.”

As per analyst Jeff Pu of Yuanata Investment Consulting, Huawei will launch its foldable smartphone by “very early 2019.” Nothing is set in stone though as the quality and durability of the panels still leaves a lot to be desired. Reports have already detailed that Samsung’s first foldable smartphone will have a 7-inch display that will fold into half. It is also reportedly set for unveiling early next year.

Huawei has been growing rapidly in a stagnant smartphone market. Apart from dominating the Chinese smartphone market despite stiff competition from Xiaomi, it has also managed to carve a market for itself in Europe where its Honor sub-brand is growing at a rapid pace. The company has already shipped 100 million smartphones this year and it expects to ship over 200 million units by the end of this year.

BOE has been looking to supply OLED panels to many Android OEMs. It is currently in the process of setting up its OLED factories, so it is surprising to see that the company already has the technology and the expertise to create OLED panels for foldable smartphones.

Our Take

It is interesting to see Huawei and Samsung battle it out to be the first to the market with a foldable smartphone. What is perhaps more important is that how the foldable smartphone idea is executed. If done right, it will completely change the smartphone market. But if the idea is not implemented properly, it will end up being just a gimmick that will find very few takers.

[Via Nikkei]