Huawei has emerged as a foldable smartphone leader and we’re not surprised at China’s domination of another tech segment. For months now, we’ve had regular discussions about China setting its roots firmly down in the EV market as the most desirable option for those who want to switch to electric. The discussions have grown serious enough for the U.S. Federal powers to consider how to target their unprecedented growth. Now, Counterpoint Research has reported that Huawei has overtaken Samsung to become the top foldable smartphone maker in Q1 2024. 

The foldable smartphone market insights tell us exactly what we’d suspected—that smartphones that fold are just as trendy as the current obsession with AI, and focusing on the segment will be critical for brands. More and more, we see brands bringing their own foldable offerings to the market while leaders like Apple lag behind. It is important to note that this foldable technology isn’t rising all on its own as the shift to 5G has also reshaped the fate of Huawei and other smartphone makers on the market.

Huawei overtakes Samsung

Image: Huawei’s Mate X5

Huawei Emerges as a Foldable Smartphone Leader—Q1 2024 Foldable Smartphone Report

Huawei has overtaken Samsung and other top smartphone makers, and its ascent is most clearly witnessed in the foldable smartphone market. The growth is tracked by global foldable smartphone shipments by OEM shares, and without a doubt, Huawei has captured a mammoth share of the sales that have taken place in the first quarter. According to Counterpoint Research, “Huawei’s transition to 5G in foldables was a key driver of its 257 percent YoY growth this quarter,” winning it 35 percent of the foldable smartphone market shares. HONOR, another Chinese smartphone maker, saw 460 percent year-on-year growth to capture 12 percent of the market. Motorola, originally an American company, is a subsidiary of Chinese tech giant Lenovo, and the company witnessed an unbelievable 1473 percent YoY growth to capture 11 percent of the global foldable smartphone shipment by OEM shares.

The numbers clearly suggest the Chinese market’s dominance in the foldable smartphone market in 2024 and it isn’t solely due to their popularity on their home ground. The market insights on foldable smartphones indicate that HONOR and Motorola have had substantial growth in international markets, with HONOR Magic V2, becoming the most shipped foldable phone in Western Europe in Q1. Motorola’s Razr 2023 was a hit with our team and apparently with North Americans as a whole, turning into a top model in the region. China’s foldable sell-through grew 48 percent YoY which is the most notable marker of its success.

Foldable smartphone market 2024

Image: The book-fold category of smartphones is gaining an edge.

Foldable Smartphone Market Insights—Folds Over Flip

When we think about these flexible smartphones, most often, the old Nokia-style clamshells come to mind. This isn’t surprising considering the smartphone market has been dominated by these devices since folding phones have made a comeback. The Q1 2024 foldable smartphone report suggests that for the first time since 2021, book-type foldable phones have accounted for 55 percent of the global foldable market shipments. 

Huawei has become a foldable smartphone leader primarily following the release of its Mate X5 book-fold phone and then later its clamshell Pocket 2. Huawei and other brands that are taking over the market are often more affordable than devices like those offered by Samsung, which makes them more available to the masses. 

Foldable smartphone market insights

Chinese Smartphone Brands Understand What Users Want

Since 2021, Samsung has dominated the market space with its gadgets and their quality across products is admirable regardless of the specs that you prioritize in a smartphone. Apart from being overtaken by Huawei as the top foldable smartphone maker in Q1 2024, Samsung has also made a mark in terms of its ongoing dominance. The company always finds a way to lead the market with every new trending category and GenAI is the next revolution in tech, smartphones that showcase it contributed to 6 percent of the global smartphone sales compared to 1.3 percent in the previous year. Samsung has been leading the trend with its Samsung Galaxy S24 series capturing the top three spots for the top ten best-selling GenAI-equipped smartphones. 

The models that follow include the Xiaomi 14, the Vivo X100, the Xiaomi 14 Pro, the OPPO Find X7, the OnePlus 12, the HONOR Magic 6, and finally the Google Pixel 8 Pro. The reason we list them out is that while South Korean company Samsung is leading the market, six of the other positions are dominated by Chinese brands.

When it comes to the best-selling smartphone of Q1 2024, the iPhone 15 Pro Max comes out on top. Five of the top ten spots are dominated by Apple while the other five are reserved for Samsung Galaxy smartphones. This is great news for Apple and Samsung, and fans of both series have shown significant brand loyalty despite the growth of the other brands. Huawei may have found some success as a foldable smartphone leader, but the brand does have some ways to go before dominating overall smartphone sales as well.