The way of "counterattack" of domestic folding screen mobile phones: focusing on user needs and hitting the core technology

Global Network Science and Technology Report?journalist?LindyAccording to the data of IDC’s global quarterly mobile phone tracking report, the global smartphone shipments in the third quarter of 2022 decreased by 9.7% year-on-year to 301.9 million units, among which the domestic mobile phone shipments with folding screens exceeded 1 million units, an increase of about 246% year-on-year, setting the largest single-season shipment in history. As an innovative model integrating many advanced technologies, the shipment and sales volume of folding screen mobile phones continue to expand, achieving contrarian growth. Guo Tianxiang, an analyst at IDC, believes that the folding screen mobile phone market will be further opened in 2023, and the sales volume will increase year by year.

(Data from IDC)

In the context of the contrarian growth of folding screens, it has become the consensus of the global smart phone industry to launch the folding screen mobile phone market. At present, domestic mobile phones also continue to invest in this track, and gradually break through in key technologies, and the upstream and downstream of the industrial chain have also increased.

withUser Experienceforfoundationgo onCore technological innovation

Compared with ordinary smart phones, the folding screen mobile phone has a larger screen like a tablet computer, and it is as easy to carry when folded, that is, the folding screen mobile phone combines a tablet computer with an ordinary smart phone, which is convenient for people to work, study and entertain. However, compared with ordinary smart phones, folding screen phones have added key components such as flexible screens and hinges, which increases the weight and costs greatly, making the price of folding screen phones higher than that of ordinary high-end smart phones.

The Report on Market Development Trend of GFK China Folding Screen Smartphone released in 2022 shows that weight is still the core problem that prevents users from buying folding screen smartphones. How to "reduce weight" for folding screens while ensuring quality and experience is a difficult problem for all terminal manufacturers.

As the industry has previously reflected, the value of folding screen is seen by users, but the form of new products has also brought new frictions, such as weight, thickness and price. Users are not necessarily familiar with the use habits of folding screen mobile phones at the beginning, which increases the use threshold of folding screen mobile phones. The new value and new friction mentioned above just constitute the formula for OPPO to join the ranks for product innovation.

Zhou Yibao, product manager of OPPO Find N series, once put forward an OPPO innovative product formula, that is, the value of innovative category = (new value-new friction)+traditional value. "For the folding screen, the new value is to surpass the big screen and hovering experience of the straight board machine; The new friction is that the fuselage is overweight, the flexible screen is deeply bent and creased, and the interactive experience is not good. The traditional value is the same functional experience as the flagship straight board machine, and none of them can be less. To put it simply, it is to achieve’ beyond the experience of a straight mobile phone’-to provide more experience than a straight mobile phone, but not to increase the extra burden. "?

OPPO believes that the great pain point for users to use folding machines now is weight.

Zhang Qian, a senior engineer of OPPO’s innovative product development team, told the reporter, "The hinge (of the folding screen mobile phone) is about 20 grams. If the hinge can be made light and thin, the combined use experience will be similar to that of the straight board machine, and it will have a larger screen experience when unfolded, which will be of great help to users and the entire folding machine market. Therefore, lightness and thinness have always been our pursuit, and it is also the biggest difficulty on our way forward. "

Based on this principle, after four years and six generations of research and development, OPPO launched the first folding flagship Find N in December 2021, and it was scheduled to break through one million in just one month, becoming the second sales volume of folding mobile phones in the first half of 2022, and reaching the highest product satisfaction of OPPO so far. After a lapse of one year, OPPO released a new generation of folding flagship Find N2 series on December 15th, 2022, including the lightest horizontal folding flagship Find N2 with only 233g, and the vertical folding product Find N2 Flip with the first 3.26-inch and the largest external screen to date.

Today, OPPO Find N2 ushered in its first sale. According to the official sales data, OPPO Find N2 won the first place in the sales of JD.COM and Tmall dual-platform Android phones in full price range.

In this regard, industry analysis said that the reason for OPPO to harvest this transcript is to take the needs of users as the starting point and deepen industrial chain cooperation for joint attack. In technology research and development, we have accumulated a lot and gained a better experience in products, which can be recognized by consumers. On the other hand, OPPO’s active R&D investment in the folding screen field has also enabled OPPO to gain a greater voice in the supply chain system, which has promoted the domestic "counterattack" of China smartphones in the folding screen field, and objectively led the technological innovation and industrial progress of folding screens.

Empowering industrial chain allianceassault fortified positions?Push the industry forward

According to media reports, a few years ago, the industrial chain of folding screen mobile phones was not mature enough, which caused creases on the surface of folding screens and was criticized by consumers. These factors lead to the tepid mobile phone market in 2019 and 2020. Since 2021, the folding screen mobile phone market has begun to warm up, driving more and more manufacturers to join.

"Regarding the technology of the supply chain, in fact, OPPO’s first concern in making products is to give users a good product." In the interview, Li Mingyang, head of OPPO’s product innovation team, said that in order to do well, such as crease and weight, in fact, OPPO didn’t consider the cost at first, just wanted to do well the product and make the user experience better. "At this time, our choice of suppliers will also be the top in the industry, and everyone can cooperate with each other to make the best products. In this process, we found that the level of the whole industry is gradually improving, and then the maturity of the whole industry will get better and better, and it will become more and more complete. "

Zhang Qian explained for example: "OPPO will set a very high benchmark for the whole industry in the’ light’ of (folding screen mobile phones), which is a level that is difficult for everyone to achieve in a short time. Our weight can compete with the straight board machine. At the same time, we also have high internal goals, and we will continue to explore the weight and thickness to achieve (or approach) the standard of the straight board machine. "

Specifically, OPPO starts from two aspects: material and structure, and achieves reliability upgrade and weight reduction in parts such as screens and hinges.

On the screen side, OPPO uses multi-layer carbon fiber materials known as "black gold" as the supporting skeleton of the screen, which greatly reduces the weight. Only the screen display structure Find N2 is 34% lighter than the previous generation Find N.. In the aspect of hinge, the aerospace MIM super-tough alloy with higher strength and high-strength composite carbon fiber material are introduced to make the hinge of Find N lighter, narrower and stronger. Structurally, thanks to the introduction of high-strength composite carbon fiber, the tenon-mortise technology with China characteristics and slide rail link can be used to replace the previous rivet structure, and the hinge parts can be closely combined without using a rivet and screw. The number of hinge parts has been reduced from 136 in the first generation to 100, which is more solid in cooperation with each other.

It is understood that since 2015, OPPO and Amphenol Feifeng have jointly developed folding screen hinges (hinges). Since the establishment of OPPO folding screen products, Amphenol Feifeng has been the hinge supplier of OPPO. In the process of cooperation, OPPO defines the functions of products and key parts based on the needs of users, and puts forward a complete hinge design scheme. In the process of landing the design scheme, it carries out joint technical attack with Amphenol Feifeng on the aspects of material selection and technical process optimization.

According to the data, in 2021, OPPO’s self-developed seiko quasi-vertebral hinge was mass-produced for the first time on Find N, covering more than 240 patents. After the cooperation between the two parties, OPPO’s hinge technology iteration and project volume expansion have enabled Amphenol Feifeng to improve its talents, core equipment, production line automation and production capacity in an all-round way.

It is noteworthy that Chloe Wang, R&D director of Amphenol Feifeng, told reporters that there is no exclusive restriction on the strategic cooperation projects with OPPO. Because the cooperation mode between OPPO and suppliers has always been a concept, that is, win-win cooperation, they will choose a cooperation mode that maximizes the interests of both parties.

At present, the supply chain of folding screen is still dominated by overseas companies, but domestic companies have also achieved substitution in key components such as glass cover. OPPO maintains close communication with domestic screen manufacturers, and is committed to the exploration of technical breakthroughs in flexible OLED panels, further improving the pain points of folding screen life, crease and weight. In addition, OPPO signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Amphenol Feifeng this year. In the future, the two sides will deepen cooperation and jointly tackle key problems to promote hinge innovation and industrial progress.

According to iResearch’s Insight Report on China Folding Screen Mobile Phone Market, the estimated shipment of folding screen mobile phones will reach 4.5 million units in 2023, with a growth rate of 69.5%. It is expected that the global smartphone shipments will slowly pick up after the shipment of folding screen mobile phones reaches a certain scale in the future. In terms of sales volume, GFK Fanor predicts that the domestic sales volume of folding screens will reach 3.8 million units in 2023, with a growth rate of 90%.

From the key links of the industrial chain, the research and development of key devices, including hinges, covers and flexible panels, is an important factor to promote the further maturity of the folding screen market, including BOE BOE’s exploration in the field of flexible screens, and the layout of domestic suppliers such as Changyang Technology and Kaisheng Technology in the field of UTG glass covers. Moreover, thanks to the joint promotion of mobile phone manufacturers such as OPPO and supply chain manufacturers such as Amphenol Feifeng, the number of hinge patent applications has increased rapidly, which helps the rapid iteration and optimization of hinge design.

As the industry has said, China science and technology enterprises in the folding screen mobile phone industry chain are stepping confidently on the road of innovation.