Sales of Samsung’s foldable phones have nosedived in China

Samsung was one of the first companies to release foldable phones at scale. That provided the company with a significant first-mover advantage. It was able to establish dominance in key markets early on, particularly in China, where local manufacturers would need a couple of years to catch up.

Having reaped the benefits, Samsung is now having to contend with tough competition in the foldable space, particularly in China, as Chinese OEMs are the only ones that are really competing in the foldable smartphone segment. To that end, Samsung now sees a significant decline in its foldable smartphone share, but it’s not entirely because of other options being better.

Chinese consumers now prefer to buy more from Chinese companies

The latest data from IDC shows that Samsung’s share in China’s foldable smartphone market was 5.9% in Q1 2024. At one point, Samsung was pulling in a quarterly foldable market share of nearly 30% in China. It essentially came in dead last, as Samsung finds itself comprehensively beaten by the handful of companies that make foldable phones. This is also a significant decline over the previous year when Samsung’s share was at 11%.

Huawei finds itself at the top of the list with a 44.1% market share. Honor came in second with 26.7%, Vivo third with 12.6% and Oppo in fourth with 9%. Samsung’s foldable phones did have the technological edge initially but the Chinese manufacturers have since caught up. Moreover, the geopolitical factors that have brought Samsung’s overall share in the Chinese phone market to 0% have also dented its foldable share.

There’s a trend of “patriotic consumption” in China as consumers actively prioritize buying from local Chinese companies. So even if Samsung’s foldables may be better, a lot of customers would opt for Chinese foldable phones instead. That’s something Samsung might find difficult to reverse since there’s only so much it can do to convince consumers. As it stands, there may be more pain in store for Samsung in China.

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