2019 is taking shape to be the year where foldable smartphones are gearing to take the limelight. 2017 and 2018 was all about notches and now smartphone manufacturers are trying out other form-factors to generate new interest.
We have seen a number of manufacturers announce their foldable smartphone concepts while others tease about their imminent releases. Most of these are in their prototype phase and not ready for mass-market, but these show what we expect to see in the future.
This is arguably the first new age foldable smartphone. It was announced on October 31st 2018 in Beijing and it gave us an idea what we should be expecting from foldable smartphones.
The screen folds outwards instead of inwards and it enables you to have a full on 7.8″ 1920 x 1440 pixel dense tablet when extended and a weird looking folded smartphone when you fold it.
Interesting enough, it is a full on beast. It has the top end Snapdragon Processor (Snapdragon 855), dual 20MP (telephoto) and 16MP (wide angle) cameras and a 3970mAh battery. You can even preorder the device now if you want to jump on the first adoption case and it is not cheap. Having the chance to own something that is unlike another would be attractive to some.
Hot on the heels of the Royole FlexPai, Samsung introduced to the world their own foldable smartphone concept.
Samsung introduced their foldable phone on 7th November 2018 and it looked like the reverse of the FlexPai. This is a clamshell design where if you open it up, it becomes a tablet with a 7.3″ screen. When you close it, it looks like a thick brick phone that shows another screen on the outside to use it as a regular phone.
Samsung is not a stranger when it comes to pushing screen tech forward. In 2014, they introduced the Galaxy Note Edge which had a weird tapered edge on the right side. That risk paid off as it became synonymous with the Galaxy brand and it has been a staple of the Galaxy S and Note brands since then.
Xiaomi has my favourite implementation of the foldable smartphone screen concept. The Chinese company somehow made the whole design look elegant and usuable and they displayed this in a low resolution video.
Lin Bin, co-founder and president of Xiaomi, introduced @xiaomi‘s first double-foldable smartphone in a video posted on his Weibo account. The phone is able to fold down on both sides and, based on user’s needs, can be a smartphone or a tablet. pic.twitter.com/DwcoPe5dcX
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) January 23, 2019
In the video, you’ll see Xiaomi’s co-founder using the Xiaomi’s foldable smartphone. The great thing about this is that it has minimal bezels and looks thing, but the killer feature is the double foldable smartphone formfactor.
The fact that the screen can be folded twice makes it look like a normal smartphone in that mode and you can understand why it is my favourite.
However it has one glaring problem. We are still not sure if the forthcoming result of that prototype would disable the folded screens at the back to prevent ghost touches and save battery life.
If this is the future of folded smartphones, then you bet I’m interested and we await what Xiaomi is working on for the mass market, if that happens.
Huawei is a big player on the smartphone market and for sure they won’t be left hanging regarding foldable screen phones.
Recently, they teased a foldable 5G smartphone that is to be revealed at the end of this month at the Mobile World Congress (MWC).
Details are pretty scarce at this point, but you can infer from the graphic they displayed in the promo material.
The light seems to emanate from outside which means it could be similar to the Royole FlexPai where the screen folds outwards. If it supports 5G, it means either they could reveal a new Kirin processor that has the 5G radios or uses the Snapdragon 855.
Motorola RAZR foldable smartphone?
Motorola may not strike a cord well with our younger readers but there was a point where it was a huge deal. They had this RAZR phone that was the epitome of class, the iPhone of the time and they have found it hard to reclaim that past glory.
However, it seems like they want to make a grand return with a foldable phone with the classy RAZR tagline.
Motorola filed what looks like a remake to their classic RAZR smartphone. It seems to have a ‘notch’ at the front with a chin at the bottom, presumably for the microphone and speaker. The back is interrupted by the folding mechanism and you can see a screen (probably for showing notifications) and two rounded circle elements, where you expect one to be a camera and one to be a fingerprint sensor.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Lenovo (the company that owns Motorola) wants to revive the RAZR brand with a foldable screen and it might cost roughly $1,500 and expected to be in the US as soon as this month, which is insane.