Samsung, Huawei, TCL lead the race to market smartphones that can also work as tablets.
The simple concept of a black rectangular touchscreen with rounded corners has appealed to smartphone users for over a decade. Needless to say, this shape and style is all Apple’s doing and even if one doesn’t have an iPhone, their smartphone will more or less resemble this shape and style. In short, owing to surplus demand, handset-makers could afford to be lazy, let go of their creativity and still manage to make money.
But in 2018, when the industry suffered a setback in terms of unit volumes, industry experts predicted that the future will be pretty for the smartphone industry only if handset-makers came up with newer and interesting smartphone designs. But device analysts agreed that technology was not yet ready to give customers massive differentiation in terms of design.
But Samsung and Huawei have now released folding smartphones, which implies that, finally, manufacturers are ready to experiment with newer shapes and sizes.
Both Samsung and Huawei have made sure that the display of their smartphones doesn’t crease or break when unfolded. One thing that some sceptics seemed to worry about was the cost. But then, for cutting-edge design, you have to be ready to pay a premium. As Clement Wong, Huawei’s director of product marketing, said, “If you want to try the latest technology on this planet, you will pay that premium.”
Let’s take a look at some of the foldable phones…
In November last year, South Korean major Samsung had teased the audience with a foldable phone at its annual developer conference, but one barely got a wind of any details about the device. Some were even confused and wondered if it was a phone or tablet. For Galaxy Fold, Samsung is using a new 7.3-inch Infinity Flex Display that allows the phone to have a tablet-sized screen, which can be folded and carried in a pocket. The main display is QXGA+ resolution (4.2:3) and, when folded, a smaller 4.6-inch HD+ (12:9) display is used for the phone mode. Samsung is using 512 GB of Universal Flash Storage 3.0 (eUFS) for massive speed alongside a Qualcomm 7 nm octa-core processor and 12 GB of RAM. Galaxy Fold has two batteries that are set apart by the fold, but brought together in the Android operating system to represent a total of 4,380 mAh. According to reports, Galaxy F, or Galaxy Fold, will probably cost over `1,00,000, which means it is probably not meant for the middle-class market.
Chinese company TCL wishes to introduce a foldable phone next year, which will reportedly cost 30% less than the Galaxy Fold. The company displayed a few interesting concepts recently. In one concept, it showed a book-fold approach to the Galaxy Fold, but let go of a second screen in the cover for LED lights. In this layout, TCL uses these lights to display the time. The other interesting element is the addition of magnetic ends to ensure that the device is tightly shut. Then there was also a concept, which made a phone turn into a watch. Another prototype showed a narrow and tall phone, which folded, but not in half. It bent asymmetrically, which, in turn, led to a small part of the display open for the user to see content and data. If the phone is folded closed, it doesn’t appear flat and gives the illusion of a bulging billfold.
Huawei Mate X
During the Mobile World Congress 2019, Huawei made public its first-ever foldable phone. Unlike Galaxy Fold, Mate X has a fold-out design with two screens on the outer side of the folded device, which means that the Mate X will be inverted when it unfolds to enable the secondary display for the tablet mode. Mate X is compatible with 5G and will come with two back-to-back screens, which unfold to become an eight-inch tablet display. When unfolded, the 6.6-inch dual display panel is converted into an 8-inch tablet with 5.4 mm thickness. It has an impressive 4,500-mAH dual battery and, interestingly, it comes with superfast charging capability—in just 30 minutes, your phone will reach 85% battery.