Folding phones can be the most remarkable and revolutionary technology from 2019. But how do these things work, and when do we get the chance to buy them?
What makes these phones collapsible?
Certainly we had flip phones that fell back in the 90s and 2000s. But we are in smartphones now, and if you tried to put your smartphone in half then you end up with a broken phone. This is if your smartphone does not have a flexible OLED screen, a polymer screen, special components and a composite case. Foldable phones are filled with a ton of revolutionary technology, but the most groundbreaking component you see is the famous, flexible OLED display.
Organic LED displays (aka OLED screens) work by pulsing electricity through a network of organic compounds. They are extremely thin, flexible and vibrant. They do not need backlighting, and they can produce stronger colors than thick LED screens.
These beautiful, flexible displays are manufactured primarily by Samsung, and they already exist in a variety of products that you may know. The Galaxy S7 Edge has a curved OLED screen. The IPhone X contains a Samsung OLED screen. Sony has released some OLED TVs, and LG produces a series of signature OLED TVs that are paper thin and slightly flexible.
Manufacturers like Samsung and Royole have developed OLED screens since 2011 and these already show their way into many consumer quality products. Why has it taken so long for foldable phones to become a thing? Well, companies have been told how to make all other components of a phone flexible.
The glass is not so flexible if you wonder. As a result, manufacturers must develop bendy polymer screens for flexible phones. Circuit circuits and lithium-ion batteries can come on fire if you bend them back and forth, so manufacturers have to find a solution for it. Aluminum and plastic cases are technically flexible but they will snap after a couple of weeks. See where this goes? Everything you expect to find in a mobile phone needs to be revolutionized for use in a collapsible phone.
Manufacturers like Samsung and Royole have been thinking about how to make the components of a mobile more flexible. Otherwise they would not release folding phones. But technology is still in its early stages. Having said that, it will take a few years for these units to become affordable and common.
Meanwhile, we can only hope that the manufacturers come up with a better name for foldable phones. People inevitably start calling them "phondables" or "flexiphones", and that's just nothing good.
Folding phones offer endless possibilities
So what should we do with foldable phones? It is a bit difficult to find out where this trend is, because manufacturers have already taken the technology on a number of unique paths.
We know that some devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy F and Royole FlexPai, can expand into tablet-sized smartphones, and it's pretty cool. You can use these as regular smartphones when you go, or you can put them in tablets when you want to video chat a friend or get some work. Phones that double as a tablet can change how we consume media, and they can make it even easier to do work on the go.
There are also devices like the Motorola RAZR 4 that take folding technology in the other direction. The RAZR 4 folds into itself as a flip phone, and essentially makes your bulky mobile phone a much smaller device. Some technical demos have shown folding phones that can wrap around the wrist and Apple acquired a patent for a phone that rolls up like a scroll, oddly enough.
This technology is so new and pioneering that the manufacturers are uncertain what to do with it. And this is a very exciting thing, because the format of smartphones can finally evolve into something bigger.
The technology can be bent out of shape
Much of the problems with traditional smartphones have been developed. Their screens are durable, they have a durable battery life, and they are relatively easy to use. But folding phones put us back a little. They have larger screens that require more battery power, they are made of materials that are not very durable, and they will work differently from the average smartphone.
The biggest complaint you will hear about these phones is probably their plastic screens. No, they won't be smashed like glass, and companies like Royole have gone out to wave around slogans like "say goodbye to broken screens," but that thought is a bit misleading. Remember how the iPod had plastic screens that would be scratched and scuffed in your pocket? Yes, folding phones will have the same problem. And because these phones are foldable, you have no luck finding a screen protector.
But the screen is not the only fragile part of a collapsible phone. Manufacturers will have to deviate from cemented carbide or plastic cases in favor of materials that can handle being bent hundreds of times a day. The hinges of these foldable phones will be serious weak points (they were also on flip phones) because they will mostly be made of plastic and light metals. The OLED screens on these devices will also be a problem because OLEDs can lead to over-burning (such as a TV) and the organic material they are made of is very vulnerable to moisture.
Battery life, program compatibility, circuits, and ease of use will also be an obstacle to these phones. But some people may not be concerned about these minor issues, and they will be solved long before the folding phones reach a consumer-friendly price.
If you happen to get your hands on a collapsible phone in 2019, I will be shelling out a lot of money for a device that is fragile, clunky, dim and power-hungry. Remember how wonky 1st generation iPad was? Yes, it will be a little so. But competition promotes technological advances, and these collapsible units (if they become popular) will become comfortable and sustainable in less than a decade.
You will have a folding phone … Finally
From now on, the only folding phone you can buy is Royole FlexPai and it costs $ 1,318. Many companies seem to be pushing their flexible phones to the market as soon as possible (alongside 5G), and some companies will release the date of issue at MWC 2019 on February 25. It is safe to assume that the Samsung Galaxy F will be released this year, but we certainly know when Samsung holds a press release on February 20.
Assessing the FlexPais $ 1,318 price tag, you will not find all the phones that can be folded in 2019. And frankly, FlexPai does not look like a super-quality device. Videos from CES 2019 show that the FlexPai screen does not fit into the body, the plastic case does not fold flat and it water the OS system uncomfortably and quickly when the unit opens and closes. There is a good chance that a high quality, flexible phone from a popular manufacturer will run for more than $ 2000.
Here are the flexible phones we know about:
- Royole FlexPai is available for purchase right now. It is sold at $ 1,318.
- Samsung will unveil the release date and price of Galaxy F on February 20.
- Huawei will show their 5G collapsible phone at MWC on February 25th.
- Motorola has not shared much about the RAZR 4. There are rumors that the device will show up at MWC, but Motorola is not on the MWC exhibition side.
- Oppo can display a collapsible phone at MWC on February 25th.  Xiaomi released a video for his collapsible phone earlier this week.
- Sony can put together a collapsible phone and some concept receptions have been compiled by TechConfigurations.
- LG recently filed a patent for a collapsible phone. 19659032] Recently, Apple acquired patents for a collapsible phone and a scroll-up phone.
Sources: Patently, Android Authority, CNET