In short: Industry watchers at ABI Research labeled foldable displays as the next big thing in the mobile industry, predicting 248 million handsets equipped with such panels will ship on a global level by 2027. The company's latest report also points to 5G and intelligent biometrics as two main innovations that will change the concept of smartphones over the next decade; predicting 1.4 billion 5G-enabled mobile devices will be shipped during the same period. Approximately 553 million devices featuring under-display fingerprint readers will ship over the next nine years as well, as per the same report.
Background: Samsung already made its foldable smartphone plans known and is expected to announce its first such product this November before releasing it in early 2019. While Huawei is expected to follow suit almost immediately, it's Motorola that ABI is predicting will be the second manufacturer to release an Android smartphone with a foldable screen, possibly as part of a RAZR brand revival. LG, OPPO, and Vivo are also currently experimenting with the same technology, according to recently spotted patent documentation, with all major mobile manufacturers being expected to commercialize foldable devices over the course of the next decade. 5G and under-display fingerprint sensors should be adopted even more swiftly, as many OEMs previously signaled they're planning to have those technologies available through the majority of their portfolios within the next several years.
Impact: While the mobile industry settled with the "candy bar" form factor years ago, recent panel advancements will finally allow for a smartphone design evolution in the near future. Many industry watchers still don't expect bendable screens to become the go-to option for manufacturers over the next ten years but are at the very least expecting ultra-premium devices to adopt them. Coupled with 5G and biometrics powered by AI technologies, as well as the vast potential of blockchain, the smartphone industry will likely experience many changes in the medium term following years of relative stagnation.