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The biggest challenge for foldable phones in 2023? diverse

Huawei recently announced that it will be releasing a new foldable smartphone, the Pocket S, which appears to be a very solid addition to the current foldable landscape – promoting decent specs and a competitive price point. The only major issue with it is that it’s launching as a regional exclusive, something that seems to be a recurring issue with foldable devices.

It’s clear that foldable devices are on the rise, with new options launching at a faster pace, and many in the US wanting to use them – but there’s one problem: In the US, there aren’t many foldable phones to choose from. Here, the list of applicable folds in the market is quite small. We got our hands on the first and second Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4, as well as the 2020 Motorola Razr, but that’s all there is to it.

foldable green grass

Unlock Oppo Find N.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

To be clear, these two Samsung smartphones are excellent choices for anyone looking to fold. But those looking for the options we see abroad simply won’t find them here. The US also has the 2020 Razr, but that’s not what most would call a first-round pick when compared to any other foldable smartphone, and it’s almost impossible to recommend over the Fold 4 and Flip 4.

With devices like the Oppo Find N, Vivo X Fold, and Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 — to name just a few of the foldable devices available outside the US — it’s hard not to feel like we’ve lost a significant portion of the smartphone market. There are always the vague promises of a foldable iPhone that is rumored to come in a few years. However, they do not feel comfortable when we watch a lot of excellent devices launch month after month out of our reach.

Huawei Mate XS.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

It only makes sense that foldable smartphone manufacturers would be a little wary about releasing their devices in a market like the US, where Apple, Samsung and Google appear to be untouchable giants in the space.

However, it’s clear that foldable devices aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, as sales of foldable smartphones are expected to reach $29 billion in just over two years. If so, we should see more plans for the US launch of the world’s largest foldable device. But so far, there is not much to suggest that devices from foldable manufacturers are coming.

The future of US-based foldable devices looks bleak

Galaxy Z Flip 4 opens on top of the Z Fold 4 box.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

We can expect the Pixel Fold to be launched by the US if and when it debuts, in addition to the aforementioned rumors of a foldable Apple. But adding only two new devices from manufacturers that we’ve seen endless versions over the years doesn’t really fix the lack of diversity that the US market is currently experiencing. When 2023 rolls around, we’ll likely see two new updated foldables from Samsung, perhaps a new Motorola smartphone, and possibly the Pixel Fold. But that seems to be the case.

Even if the Pixel Fold launches next year as is rumored, it will only increase the number of options for foldable fans in the US by one increase – a far cry from the endless foldable launches abroad. At the end of the day, it’s hard to be excited about the future of folds when the most interesting innovations in space just pass us by. I hope 2023 will bring an astonishing number of new US-based foldable devices, but I certainly won’t hold my breath for that.

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