Phones with folding screens are a thing now, and in the next few years we will certainly see more of them. Will it be the next breakthrough that will allow us to do more with our phones, or is it another unnecessary feature that will disappear like 3D cameras did in 2011?
How do foldable phones work?
The technology is simple, but relatively expensive to manufacture and mass produce. OLED displays, differ from LED displays because they do not need a backlight. This means that each pixel, is capable of emitting light. While they can’t be as bright as LED panels, OLED can get very close, while achieving incredible contrast. But most importantly for foldable phones, the panel can be mounted on a flexible material and bend while operating normally, since there is no rigid backlight requiring the whole module to stay flat.
This flexible display, can be bent but only up to a point. A flat bend would probably break it. This is why all the phones we have seen in demos and “leaks”, have an extra wide curve on the screen. But it looks like manufacturers are trying to find a way to make the display fold flat. I don’t think though that such a design is possible at least for now.
What’s the benefit?
The idea is that you get a phone, small enough to carry around, answer calls, do quick things, and then when you sit down somewhere you can fold it open and enjoy a huge display. Or you could have a tablet that is able to fit in your pocket. Since the fold can be outward or inward, there are many possibilities. But since this fold cannot be tight and flat, the current designs look like ugly first gen prototypes.
Another reason to have such a phone is again size. Motorola showed an interesting design of a flip phone that is very compact when closed, but has a big display when opened.
Should i buy one?
It depends. Some people with tech knowledge and patience, will be able to use this product and forget about its minor flaws. If you are a person who buys an iPhone because that’s what you are used to and don’t care to change, then this is not for you. The first products will be exciting to see and use but will have issues that may be frustrating in a phone you use every day.
Battery will be an issue with such a big display. Most first gen designs look uncomfortable to hold and the software is far from Alpha even.
But for those who want the latest tech and are willing to play with it and give it some time, this concept is definitely cool. I think that when Samsung and Huawei release their foldable phones, those will be worth buying. And for the rest of us, that want a cool but also usable and reliable phone, maybe the gen2 foldable devices from Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi or Motorola will be better options, probably some time in 2021.