Tech corner

Why are foldable phones the next step in mobile tech?


We find out what to expect with this innovative new design

When you think of flip phones, you probably have a flashback to the early 2000s, when everyone was clambering to get their hands on a Motorola Razr or an LG GT360. Recently, several phone companies have introduced models that call back to that era, but times have changed and so has the technology behind the foldable phone concept.

These new smartphones are equipped with screens that bend like a sheet of paper, combining touchscreen technology with the cellphone aesthetic of old. But is this quirky design just a gimmick, or could it really be the next step in mobile tech?


The benefits of foldable smartphones

After spending so many years trying to create phones that fit neatly into your pocket and don’t take up too much space, most phone companies – notably Apple and Samsung – have turned that design on its head and started to increase the size of smartphones once again. Versions such as the iPhone Plus series are notably bigger than a standard smartphone, offering a wider and more immersive display.

Though large phones aren’t for everyone, they’re great for those who want their devices to work more like a tablet without taking up too much space. New foldable smartphone technology markets itself towards these people in particular, as one huge benefit of the devices is that they offer an experience that’s both a tablet and a phone in one. When the device is open, it's a tablet offering a big-screen experience. When closed, it's back to a phone that fits neatly inside your pocket.


Potential problems with the design

Of course, with a design as complicated and exciting as this, there are several problems that developers are having to consider before they try to blow up the market with foldable phones. There’s the looming reality that this foldable display will have much less protection than you’re used to – finding phone cases might be a nightmare, and there aren’t currently any foldable screen protectors on the market, although chances are they’ll appear everywhere overnight.

Even though you’re safe from car keys scratching it in your pocket thanks to its closed mode, you still run the risk of scuffing a non-glass display every time you interact with it, as the material isn’t as sturdy as you’ll be used to. But there are ways around these drawbacks, and hopefully with enough research and testing, the issue will become much less of a worry.


When can we expect foldable smartphones to hit the shelves?

This exciting technology may take a while to become mainstream, as most smartphone manufacturers still haven’t settled on what sort of concept they want to aim for. However, with the buzz around foldable phones increasing by the minute, most of them will inevitably dip their toes into the realm of foldable devices, and eventually one of them will be greeted by a world of smartphone buyers eager for something a little bit different.


Check out the launch video for the Samsung Galaxy Fold for an idea of what’s to come.

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