21st Century Business Herald reporter Ni Yuqing in Shenzhen
In 2021, foldable mobile phones will be released in China. On Dec 23, Huawei unveiled its first flagship phone with vertical folding, the Huawei P50 Pocket, priced from 8,988 yuan.
Overall, this year's folding screen market entered a period of rapid development. "According to Sigmaintell, the global shipments of foldable smartphones are expected to reach 7.2 million in 2021, up about 188 percent year on year, with Samsung Electronics and Huawei, the two leaders, accounting for more than 95 percent of the overall market," Wang Xiaoya, senior analyst of mobile panel at Sigmaintell, told 21st Century Business Herald. At the same time, The global shipment of foldable mobile phones is expected to reach 67 million in 2025, showing a rapid growth trend of foldable circuit.
In the face of emerging growth track, giants are also accelerating the pace of research and development. Besides Huawei, OPPO recently released a foldable screen that lowered the price to 7,000 yuan. Next, Honor and Vivo may also release new products in 2022, and Apple's research and development of foldable screen information also comes out from time to time.
With the active investment of brands and the revival of folding screen, who is the fastest to scale up the volume, reduce the cost, who is likely to continue to lead the whole market.
The battle of high-end
When Huawei launched the Mate X2 earlier this year, Yu Chengdong, huawei's managing director, CEO of consumer BG, and CEO of intelligent vehicle solution BU, said that Huawei would have a variety of foldable screens. Looking back, Huawei released its first foldable phone Mate X in 2019. After three years, Huawei has become the only mobile phone manufacturer that covers horizontal folding, horizontal folding and vertical folding.
The new Huawei P50 box is different from Mate X series in business temperament, while P series is more prominent in fashion and image function attributes. From the outside, the P50 treasure box chooses the vertical folding mode, which makes the volume smaller after folding, and creates the first double-sided three-dimensional microengraving technology in the crystal diamond white color matching, and makes double-sided texture on the 0.5mm thick glass on the back of the phone, forming about 1000 diamond squares from the naked eye. In terms of image, the new product integrates XD Fusion Pro and flagship image technology such as computational optics, and adopts the industry's first hyperspectral image system to enhance image detail and atmosphere.
From the point of view of structure experience, hinge and screen are the core components of foldable mobile phone, according to the introduction, Huawei P50 box in the shaft structure, the industry's unique Huawei new generation of water droplets hinge, to further improve reliability and durability; In terms of software experience, ecological adaptation and functional innovation is the top priority. Based on Huawei Hongmeng Ecological Base, Huawei P50 Treasure Box has achieved a breakthrough in software diversification ecology and inside and outside screen connection.
It can be seen that in the folding screen parade, the giants are speeding up their steps. What big manufacturers are competing for is the ability to upgrade the mechanical structure, which is the upgrade of the hardware form and an important sign for the brand to establish a high-end brand.
Especially in the current fierce competition in the high-end market, the mass production capacity of foldable mobile phone has become a key competitiveness of mobile phone manufacturers. Iresearch compares foldable mobile phones to the "golden line" of the mobile phone industry. A golden line divides two camps, and only the brands above the golden line can dominate the high-end market.
According to IDC, about 1.947 million foldable phones were shipped globally in 2020, while 1.292 billion smartphones were shipped globally in the same year, accounting for about 0.15 percent of the total. In the smartphone market, foldable phones are still small.
In 2021, the shipment volume of foldable mobile phones is approaching tens of millions, becoming a new growth point in the industry. Worldwide shipments of foldable phones reached 786,400 units in the second quarter of 2021, a record high for a single quarter, according to IDC. Among them, Huawei, Samsung and Xiaomi accounted for 39.7%, 29.4% and 22.0% of the market share respectively.
As mobile phone manufacturers release new products one after another, the supply chain joint research and development ability, cost control ability, large-scale shipping ability, become a new test, the maturity of the current industrial chain is still improving.
Whether it is horizontal folding or vertical folding, Wang Xiaoya told reporters that at present, the main difficulty should be UTG Glass (Ultra Thin Glass), mainly because of the material and process requirements are very high. Folding screen technology still depends on the solution and supply capacity of suppliers. In recent years, domestic investment in ultra-thin glass is also increasing. With the landing and mass production of new local factories, the cost of folding screen will drop rapidly.
Industry chain senior personage told reporters that at present UTG mainly relies on imports, localization of the attempt is also in progress. At the same time, domestic flexible screen suppliers are also trying to make breakthroughs. Boe, Huaxing Optoelectronics, Shentianma and other panel manufacturers are also increasing the production capacity of flexible AMOLED.
Although folding screen is not necessarily the only direction of future mobile phone evolution, it may only be a branch of it, but there is no denying that the emergence of folding screen is the timely rain of the current mobile phone industry, and it is the substantive progress desired by everyone, with important industrial significance.
Huawei has occupied a major share in the domestic foldable mobile phone market due to its first-mover advantage, brand potential and technological innovation ability. With the industry chain blocked, Huawei's research and development on mobile phones is still continuing. With the release of Huawei P50 Pocket, its cooperation in the foldable screen industry chain is also advancing step by step.