This time last year, there was a huge buzz around foldable mobile phones. With delayed launches and technical problems, the expected surge didn’t really happen. But many manufacturers seem convinced that the future is foldable – so could 2020 be the year we all start to bend?
Problems with foldable phones
There have been some significant barriers to buying a foldable phone until now.
Price has been a big deterrent, with the Samsung Galaxy Fold retailing at a hefty £1900. And if you can get hold of it, Huawei’s Mate X (not yet available in the UK) will set you back $2300. Coupled with teething problems in technology (see below), going foldable has been an expensive option so far.
Technical issues and teething problems
A limited launch of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold in April 2019 brought reports of broken screens after just a few days use. It was relaunched worldwide in September and these issues appear to have been fixed. However, media reports suggest there are still some niggles to be resolved (such as fingernails denting the screen). Motorola has also delayed the launch of its much-anticipated Razr clamshell foldable phone, which was due to go on sale in December. The technology is very new so there will inevitably be issues for early adopters.
Heavy and bulky to carry
The downside to having two screens is that, well, you have two screens. So that’s double the size and double the weight of a one screen model. If you’re used to a slimline phone that doesn’t take up much space in your bag or your pocket, it’s something to think about.
However, the plus points for foldables could tip the balance, if manufacturers can sort out the minuses.
The big screen on a foldable is great for watching videos or gaming (the Galaxy Fold screen expands from 12 cm to 18 cm). And the bigger display makes it easy to run several apps at the same time. As we increasingly use our phones for everything but making calls, this feature is likely to be a big draw.
You can fit in more tech behind two screens than you can behind one. Foldable phones have more powerful processors and bigger batteries for improved performance.
A tablet in your pocket
Why carry a tablet and a phone? A foldable phone gives you all the benefits of a tablet so there’s no need to carry both around.
There’s one pressing question for many tech reporters. Is Apple planning to make a foldable phone? Until they do (and there are hints and rumours that it’s in the pipeline) will iPhone users be willing to switch? Watch this space.