The biggest challenge for foldable phones in 2023? Variety


Huawei recently announced that it is launching a new foldable smartphone, the Pocket S, which looks to be a pretty solid addition to the current foldable landscape — touting decent specs and a competitive price point. The only major problem with it is that it’s launching as a regional exclusive, something that seems to be a recurring issue with foldable devices.

Foldables are clearly on the rise, with new options launching at a more rapid pace, and many in the U.S. want in on it — but there’s one problem: in the U.S., there simply aren’t that many foldable phones to choose from. Here, the list of viable foldables on the market is pretty small. We’ve got the one-two punch of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Galaxy Z Flip 4, as well as the 2020 Motorola Razr, but that’s about it.

The greener foldable grass

Opening the Oppo Find N.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

To be clear, the two Samsung smartphones are excellent picks for anyone looking to go foldable. But those looking for the options we’re seeing overseas simply will not find them here. The U.S. also has the 2020 Razr, but it’s not what most would call a first-round pick when compared to just about any other foldable smartphone, and it’s nearly impossible to recommend over the Fold 4 and Flip 4.

With devices like the Oppo Find N, the Vivo X Fold, and the Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 — just to name a few foldables available outside of the U.S. — it’s hard not to feel like we’re missing out on a major portion of the smartphone market. There are always the vague promises of the rumored foldable iPhone that could be coming in a few years. However, they’re little comfort when we’re watching plenty of excellent devices launch month after month just outside our reach.

Huawei Mate XS.
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

It makes a certain amount of sense why foldable smartphone manufacturers might be a little cautious about launching their devices in a market like the U.S., where Apple, Samsung, and Google are seemingly untouchable giants in the space.

That said, it’s clear that foldables aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, as foldable smartphone sales are expected to reach $29 billion in just over two years. If that’s the case, then we should be seeing more plans for U.S. launches of the world’s biggest foldable devices. But so far, there’s not much to suggest that devices from established foldable manufacturers are coming.

The future of U.S.-based foldables looks dim

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 open on top of the Z Fold 4's box.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

We can expect the Pixel Fold to launch stateside if and when it eventually debuts, as well as the aforementioned rumored Apple foldable. But the addition of just two new devices from manufacturers that we’ve seen endless releases from over the years doesn’t really fix the lack of variety that’s currently plaguing the U.S. market. When 2023 rolls around, we’ll likely see two new updated foldables from Samsung, possibly a new Motorola flip smartphone, and maybe the Pixel Fold. But that seems to be it.

Even if the Pixel Fold launches next year like it’s rumored to, that would only increase the number of options for foldable fans in the U.S. by a single increment — a far cry from the seemingly endless foldable launches overseas. At the end of the day, it’s just hard to be excited about the future of foldables when the most interesting innovations in the space pass us by entirely. I hope 2023 brings with it a surprising number of new U.S.-based foldables, but I certainly won’t be holding my breath for it.

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