From flip phone variants to massive displays, foldable screen smartphones are evolving and offering some fascinating results
Experts say these phones will have a shorter life cycle, but one can’t deny that they are making smartphones look cool again
Years of experiments with smartphone display screens appear to be yielding exciting results. After Samsung and Huawei, Motorola has joined the club by reviving the iconic Moto Razr with a foldable screen. Xiaomi and LG are also reportedly working on foldable screen phones of their own. Apple, too, has a patent for a foldable phone. Made of OLED glass panels with more plastic substrates, these screens are designed and tested to withstand over 100,000 folds without getting damaged. While experts say these phones will have a shorter life cycle, one can’t deny they are pushing the envelope and making smartphones look cool again. Here we look at five new and forthcoming foldable phones.
SAMSUNG GALAXY FOLD
The smartphone almost didn’t make it to the market owing to screen-related issues. It’s available in India now and costs ₹1.6 lakh. The Galaxy Fold’s 7.3-inch screen folds inwards. To minimize the need for unfolding the phone for minor functions, Samsung has added a secondary 4.85-inch screen on the cover of the phone. It has a front camera on the cover, two more on the notch inside the foldable screen and a triple camera set-up on the rear side.
Xiaomi is reportedly lining up its own foldable smartphone with an even bigger screen than Huawei’s Mate X. In a video posted by Xiaomi, company president Lin Bin is seen using what looks like a large-screen tablet with amazingly thin bezels. Unlike the foldable screen models seen so far, the Xiaomi device has two joints—it can be folded from both the left and right sides, allowing it to double up as a smartphone (when unfolded, it works as a tablet). There has been no official statement on its price or availability, but Xiaomi might showcase it at CES 2020 in Las Vegas in January.
Months before the Galaxy Fold showed up, US-based display manufacturer Royole Corp. came up with the FlexPai, which has a 7.8-inch screen that bends from the middle inside out. When folded, the phone adjusts the interface to fit half the screen. While the phone’s exterior is made of plastic, there is a rubber hinge in the middle to fold the screen. Royole claims the hinge and the screen have been tested to fold 200,000 times. It runs on Android 9. It starts from $1,300 (around ₹93,000).
Specs: 7.8-inch AMOLED display, 1,920x1,440p; 4:3 aspect ratio, Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, up to 8 GB RAM/256 GB storage
HUAWEI MATE X
Huawei’s foldable venture is more on the lines of the FlexPai since its screen also opens inside out. But it has a more premium look, with thinner bezels, a more aesthetic design and slimmer form factor. It still manages to offer an 8-inch OLED display. The direction of the fold also makes it a unique offering. The only concern is that the folded-out screen is more prone to damage. It was first released in China in November at $2,400 ( ₹1.7 lakh).
Specs: 8-inch OLED screen, 2,480x2,200p resolution, Android 9 with EMUI 9.1.1, Leica quad camera set-up, Huawei’s Kirin 980 processor
Motorola recently joined the foldable phone bandwagon. The company has stuck to the more acceptable and convenient smartphone form factor with a foldable 6.2-inch OLED screen that folds down—the clamshell design—on the lines of the original Moto Razr flip phone launched in 2005. The phone has an additional 2.7-inch display on the cover. The new Razr is splash-proof, water-resistant and is lighter than other foldable phones. It’s expected to be available for $1,499.