Folding smartphones – how far have we come?

Folding phones are the hot new trend in the smartphone industry (besides 5G phones, of course, although technologies do tend to overlap). It’s no coincidence that a few have already been announced and are almost ready for the market, whilst others perhaps will arrive just after summer. The world’s first folding phone was the Royole FlexPai, still in its infancy in many respects and improved by Samsung and Huawei in some ways. The technology is new and opens up a world of interesting possibilities – in terms of shape, design and creativity – that the smartphone universe hadn’t experienced for some time. The foldable era is already upon us and is set to revolutionize our lives – company by company, we’re discovering the best projects and devices out there for you to keep a close eye on.

Samsung Galaxy Fold

We were captivated by the Samsung Galaxy Fold when it was showcased alongside the Galaxy S10 on February 20, but we had to wait until April 15 before the South Korean manufacturer allowed the media to get their hands on the device. Initial impressions were good, but a range of problems caused by improper use (e.g. removing the protective film from the screen) prompted Samsung to investigate the issue in more detail and postpone the launch by a month, from early May to June. The Fold might be bulky, heavy and extremely expensive, but it does its job. The interface is fluid, the multitasking feature is excellent and the folding 7.3-inch screen is simply fantastic. It has three displays: an external 4.6-inch HD+ Super AMOLED display and two internal central panels, which together form a 7.3-inch AMOLED QHD+ folding screen. Up to three apps can be used at the same time. It has a 4,380 mAh battery, 12GB RAM, 512GB of memory and a high-end Snapdragon 855 chipset. Cameras? The Galaxy Fold boasts six – a 16MP lens and two 12MP lenses on the back; a 10MP front camera and a dual 10MP and 8MP foldable camera on the inside. It costs EUR 2,050.

Huawei Mate X

Huawei Mate X has a slightly different design to the Galaxy Fold as it folds outwards instead of inwards. The display measures 8 inches in total, with a 6.6-inch display on the front and a 6.4-inch one on the back. The screen that surrounds the body of the phone gives it a stunning overall look, but you’ll have to look out for scratches and spills when it’s open as it could easily get damaged. The Mate X has a 4,500 mAh battery with fast charging, three cameras, a Kirin 980 chipset, 8GB RAM and 512GB storage space, and it supports 5G. It’s pricier than the Galaxy Fold at EUR 2,299, although the launch of the Chinese brand’s new folding phones could drive down the price in the future.

Motorola Razr V4

Although it seemed like a hoax, it appears Motorola really does plan to relaunch the Razr series, but in a folding design. We still don’t know a great deal about it, but the design will probably be shell-shaped, with a natural opening movement from one exterior screen to two interior ones joined by a flexible OLED. The phone was supposed to be launched on the market in February, but this didn’t happen. However, during a press conference at the MWC, Motorola’s vice president and managing director Antony Barounas explained – “If I go around the shops, the phones all look the same to me. I’d be hard pushed to tell whether it’s a Motorola or another brand. What can we do to appear different in the eyes of the consumer? We have to show them something really unique, and that’s where the foldable comes in.” We look forward to the launch.

LG

The latest news on a folding LG phone comes from Kyle Yoon, product manager at LG Mobile, who said the following in a briefing: “Speaking of folding phones, the day will come when we will all have one. But the industry will only become established if the phones can offer native resolution and 5G and are affordable. We’re focusing on these aspects first and foremost, and the foldables… they’ll follow.” Rumors of the Korean brand launching a flexible device have already been circulating – not least because the company, which produced the world’s first rollable TV, already possesses the technology.  Nothing has been confirmed and LG doesn’t seem to be in a hurry, also because the LG Dual Screen, a device that can be connected to LG V50 ThinQ to add a second 6.2-inch screen, is a solution that looks to the past more than the future.

Will we see an iPhone Flex?

Although it probably won’t come to the market as soon as the other phones on this list, Apple may have a folding phone project in the pipeline at its own labs. The rumor was already spreading by the end of 2017, with the possibility of an iPhone Flex in 2020. The time is right, the supply chain is ready and a variety of patents are starting to emerge. It’s clear that Apple is considering the idea, but the sector is still so new that it doesn’t want to make a false move. If folding phones prove to be practical and, at least in part, successful, then the moment will be right to introduce an iPhone with a bang.

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