Foldable smartphones may be all the rage in 2022, but there’s no denying that one manufacturer—Samsung—dominates this sector. The Korean smartphone company continues to sell more foldable phones than any other manufacturer and has done so consistently for over three years, having launched its latest foldable phone a few weeks ago.
Samsung’s success comes despite rivals like Huawei, Honor, OPPO and Motorola trying their luck with various foldable smartphone models. However, a combination of reasons — from lack of availability in international markets to unfinished software — prevented these companies from posing a threat to Samsung.
Samsung’s luck was helped by the fact that Google has delayed the launch of its foldable smartphone for a long time now. Google’s foldable smartphone — dubbed the Pixel Fold — was originally slated for a fall 2021 launch. However, Google abruptly canceled its launch before deciding to scrap the project. Then, to everyone’s surprise, Google relaunched the project in 2022, with some reports hinting at a possible launch by the end of the year. However, new information indicates that the Pixel Fold will likely arrive in the hands of consumers in 2023.
Like most smartphone makers these days, Google begins to move production operations out of China due to geopolitical tensions and disruptive factory closures. However, it will continue to rely on Taiwan-based Foxconn for some of its smartphones, including possibly its highly anticipated foldable phone.
According to the New York Times, Google plans to ship up to half of its high-end smartphones out of Vietnam next year. However, the company will still need China for more complex fabrications, such as those that would be needed for a foldable smartphone.
An obligation to work in China
The NYT claims that “Google is exploring the possibility of a foldable smartphone for 2023“and that the foldable screen and hinge technology”likely require production to be close to key suppliers in China“. The advantages of choosing such locations are manifold. In addition to reducing the cost of logistics, this choice allows companies to obtain and replace defective parts quite easily.
Although China continues to be an attractive manufacturing hub for these brands, recent supply chain disruptions and growing tensions between China and the West appear to have made them cautious about putting most of their their eggs in the Chinese basket.
Many rumors have swirled about Google’s foldable project being canceled or postponed. However, a patent filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for the device was recently released, showing that the smartphone could be a foldable book like the Galaxy Z Fold 4.