Sanctioned Huawei Takes Global Top Spot For Foldable Smartphones

Huawei's Mate X5 foldable. Image credit: Huawei

China’s Huawei becomes world’s biggest vendor of foldable smartphones in first quarter in spite of US sanctions, surpassing Samsung

Huawei became the world’s biggest seller of foldable smartphones in the first quarter, according to figures from Counterpoint, underscoring the tech giant’s continued return to growth in spite of crippling US sanctions placed on it since 2019.

The Chinese firm overtook Samsung, the previous leader in foldables, growing its foldable sales 257 percent year-on-year to take 35 percent of the worldwide market, compared to 23 percent for Samsung.

A year ago Samsung shipped 58 percent of foldables worldwide, compared to 14 percent for Huawei.

Huawei’s growth was spurred by its introduction of 5G foldables last year, which it didn’t offer a year ago.

Huawei's Pocket 2 foldable. Image credit: Huawei
Huawei’s Pocket 2 foldable. Image credit: Huawei

5G models

5G models made up 84 percent of the company’s foldables in the first quarter, Counterpoint said.

Huawei’s book-type foldable, the Mate X5, has been one of China’s best-selling foldables for three consecutive quarters.

The company’s first 5G clamshell foldable, the Pocket 2, was introduced in April 2024 and contributed significantly to its Q1 shipments, Counterpoint said.

The company noted that sanctioned Huawei faces ongoing “challenges in securing supplies for its self-developed 5G SoC” but is treating foldables as a priority due to their higher price positioning.

Chinese firm Honor’s global foldable market share grew from 3 percent a year ago to 12 percent in the first quarter, making it the third-biggest after Huawei and Samsung, with its book-type model Honor Magic V2 becoming the most shipped foldable in Western Europe in the first quarter.

Motorola’s global market share grew to 11 percent for the quarter, with its Razr 40 becoming the top model in North America.

Honor's Magic v2 foldable. Image credit: Honor
Honor’s Magic v2 foldable. Image credit: Honor

Sales growth

Book-type foldables accounted for 55 percent of the global market, surpassing clamshells for the first time since foldables began to catch on in 2021, Counterpoint found.

The company noted that Samsung is hoping to regain its leadership with the upcoming Z Flip 6 model, while Huawei is adding a lower-priced model to spur sales growth.

Worldwide foldable shipments grew 49 percent year-on-year marking their highest rate of increase in six quarters, Counterpoint said.

Huawei introduced its 5G-capable Mate 60 Pro series last August, taking US authorities off guard with a relatively advanced 5G chip manufactured in China using older chipmaking equipment.

The high-end model helped the company retake the top smartphone sales spot in China in the first two weeks of this year.

Motorola's Razr 40 foldable. Image credit: Motorola
Motorola’s Razr 40 foldable. Image credit: Motorola