4th company could also enter sector
Three companies are expected to compete to win orders from Samsung to supply hinges used in foldable smartphones.
KH Vatec is currently the largest supplier but S-Connect and AU Flex are attempting to expand their share in the supply chain.
KH Vatec had been the hinge supplier for Samsung since their first foldable smartphone Galaxy Fold in 2019.
S-Connect entered the supply chain in 2020. AU Flex, a supplier to Samsung Display, is looking to start supplying hinges to Samsung next year, people familiar with the matter said.
AU Flex has different patents related to hinge technology than KH Vatec, they said.
Whether S-Connect and AU Flex can expand their hinge supply will be determined by how many units of foldable phones Samsung ships going forward.
Samsung Display is also looking to supply more foldable panels to its Chinese customers, which can be a boon to the hinge suppliers. AU Flex is already
Another company, Fine Technix, may also attempt to start supplying hinges to Samsung, another group of people said.
This is because the company is expecting its supply of metal plates to Samsung to drop, which means it will need a new revenue source.
Metal plates are used on the back of conventional smartphones. But these plates on foldable phones go through a complicated etching process to accommodate the hinge. The plate itself can be removed on foldable phones with design changes as well.
For example, Samsung used carbon fiber reinforced plastics on the back of Galaxy Z Fold 3 instead of metal plates.
Because of this material change, Fine Technix is only supplying metal plates for Galaxy Z Flip 3 this time around.
Meanwhile, Samsung is aiming to ship up to 7 million foldable phones this year.