Foldable phones have been shaking news around the world the last couple of years. Especially since the announcement of Samsung Galaxy Fold, Huawei Mate X & the launch of the Royole Flexpai.
The tech community is eagerly waiting for the launch of said products. Not so much about its usability but out of curiosity.
How will they perform? Can they last long enough with every day use? Are they convinient? Are they worth the money?
The above are very reasonable concerns and the internet is flooding with comments and speculations about the very controversial introduction foldable phones.
We see a variety of ways that manufacturers are trying to implement the folding screens. Huawei Mate X has a large square screen that folds in half and leaves the panels exposed. Samsung Galaxy Fold is a standard shaped phone that opens to a big square thus keeping the screen inside. Razr’s concept is similar to the original Razr that opens and reveals a normal sized bar.
Weird screen ratio:
The fact is that most of the upcoming phones have a weird almost square screen ratio. It is practically useless for streaming video and it wastes precious screen real estate with no real purpose.
It’s absolutely understood that by having a device that folds it will be thicker than a normal phone. Indeed, the upcoming phones appear to be almost twice as thick, which extremely inconvenient.
A critical issue is their ability to handle every day use. Any device with movable parts such as hinges, folding screens etc. can reach its limits a lot sooner than a normal device and become obsolete.
Two handed use:
Having such a big device requires both hands. I don’t see a purpose on using a two-handed device when there are hundreds of amazing phones out there that can be easily used with one hand. This is very limiting.
Already we are getting prices higher than $2000. Considering that for around $600 you can buy a flagship phone like OnePlus 7 Pro and for the $1000 tag you can get a Samsung Galaxy S10 or a Huawei P30 Pro, it’s hard to justify spending twice than that for a device with no identity.
At least up to now, most apps are designed to work on single screen 16×9 (or similar) ratios. All developers will have to adapt their apps to work seamlessly on a foldable device and imagine how long it will take for every popular to be 100% compatible.
For reference lets compare Samsung Galaxy S10 vs Galaxy Fold. The 1st weighs 157g and the 2nd 263g. Its not like a huge difference but remember that this is a handheld device!
No experience from manufacturers:
It is widely admitted that folding screens are a new technology. And as always, new technologies need to be tested in the real world and may take a while to reach usable levels.
A more reasonable scenario
From what we’ve seen so far, the most reasonable form factor and concept is the Razr 2019. When folded, it has an almost square form but relatively small. Its external display seems to be used for notifications and other information and they main action happens when you open it.
When opened, it takes a more familiar ratio like all common smartphones. Also, it’s hinge appears to be a lot more durable than what we saw on other devices. On the bottom it appears to have a screen too that only displays icons and menu shortcuts.
As a device , it makes more sense than other foldable phones mainly because of 1 reason; When folded, it is almost half the size of a normal phone. On the other hand, its rivals are actually bigger than normal phone when folded!
Again, we can only speculate because this product is on its early stages of development. But, to me it seems like the most compelling option.
For people who don’t trust a folding display yet, a really compelling alternative is the newest LG G8X ThingQ. While is not an actual single folding screen, it is actually very usable, intuitive and makes sense in the real world. Many Youtubers have reviewed it and said that is not bad at all and definitely worth its money for the people who will make use of the extra real estate.