Honor Jumps into the Flip Phone Game to Top the Likes of Samsung and Apple

With top Chinese phone maker Honor releasing its first vertical flip phone this week, is the foldables market making a comeback?

Photo of a Honor phone store
Photo by Raysonho via CC0 1.0

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Who can forget that satisfying snap when you ended a call? The flip comeback is getting real.

Top Chinese phone maker Honor is releasing its first vertical flip phone this week. The market for flips is still niche, but it’s a minor miracle it exists at all.

They’re Back in Flip Form

In the 2010s, Apple’s iPhone with its sleek, touchscreen-based brick design all but destroyed consumers’ desire for flip phones. Grandma and grandpa could keep their Jitterbugs; the young people wanted black mirrors so they could surf the web and play Doodle Jump. But trends are cyclical, and much like fanny packs, vinyl records, and Jerry Seinfeld’s chunky Nikes, flip phones are becoming all the rage again. 

Market researcher TrendForce expects phone makers to ship roughly 18 million foldables this year. Granted, that’s only 1.5% of the smartphone market, but the category is projected to grow to 5% by 2028. South Korea’s Samsung had emerged as the clear winner in foldables thanks to its Galaxy Z lines, controlling 80% of the market share in 2022. But its piece of the pie has since fallen to about 50%, and Honor is looking to pounce:

  • The brand, which spun off from Huawei in 2020 to avoid US sanctions, already has a book-style foldable called the Magic V2, and, on Thursday, it released its Magic V Flip clamshell-style phone in China.
  • Honor accounts for only about 4% of the global foldable market, but it does have the advantage of controlling the largest share of the Chinese smartphone market — the biggest in the world — at just over 17%, according to the International Data Corporation.

The Flip Side: But what about Apple? The Cupertino company has had a mixed year so far — as mixed a year as the world’s most valuable company can have. Revenue generated from its services reached a record $24 billion in the second quarter, but iPhone sales slipped 10.5% year-over-year, the steepest decline since the start of the pandemic. The rumor mill has been churning that Apple will announce a foldable iPhone as a new, trendy means of delivering all its Siri and AI goodness. But at its Worldwide Developers Convention this week, there was no sign of the device. You can probably chalk that up to Tim Cook’s wait-and-see approach instead of jumping at fads.