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Foldable Smartphone Technology, What is it?

Technology has been changing the game in mobile devices, and whether we like it or not, it advances rapidly. I can still recall how amazed I was the first time I encountered a phone with a touch screen display. From then on, every year we have seen improvements in smartphone’s display, from scratch-resistant to shatter-resistant screens. Said feature has become a must-watch out improvement for every newly released unit, aside from the processor and the camera. The latest of which is the foldable smartphone technology as quoted by many. Let us find out how does it work.

 

foldable smartphone technology

What is Behind The Foldable Smartphone Technology?

First of all, I want to make clear that foldable is equal to flexible and not being able to flip as in flip-type phone. When we say foldable phone, we are literally referring to a phone that is possible to be folded and be unfolded. But did you know that this is not the first time that this technology was used in mobile phone? Maybe we are not aware, but we already had encountered this technology. Probably you owned one of the devices using the said breakthrough .

Have you noticed the edge screen popularized by Samsung and curved TV screens by LG and Samsung? The technology behind these electronics gadgets and appliances is also the same technology that foldable phone is being used. However, it is not Samsung or LG who has conceived the idea and invented this technology. Samsung just like other smartphone makers have just developed the technology for application in mobile devices or appliances.

 

How Does it Work?

The flexible display is what makes a foldable phone possible. It was conceptualized 44 years ago. The usual LED, OLED, or AMOLED displays uses layers of glass as components of the screen. On the other hand, Samsung flexible display uses plastic film instead of the usual glass material. This is because glass is brittle, hard and not bendable unlike plastic or polymer. The display functions the same manner as the OLED and AMOLED except that the display can be folded or flexed.

There are other flexible displays being developed but the principle is the same, instead of using glass, a lighter material such as polymer is used instead.

 

Application in Smartphones

News about the application of this technology in smartphone has been spread since 2012 but only now we are seeing the reality of this foldable display. We may not be aware of it but, Samsung which is the biggest manufacturer of OLED display, has already gradually introduced the flexible display technology in their flagship phones.

This was seen first in the Galaxy S6 Edge, and from then on, all succeeding Samsung flagship phones feature this technology. We were awed about the bezel-less edge screen of these phones when they were introduced. In other words, Samsung has been conditioning its consumers about the foldable display since 2015 when S6 Edge was introduced.

It is not so surprising that just recently this tech giant has unveiled the first foldable smartphone, named as the Galaxy Fold and will be available in the market starting this April. It is earlier than the previous forecast but I think this is a strategic launch.

It is not only Samsung who is trying to steal the title of the first foldable phone. Other manufacturers like Huawei and Xiaomi are also in the race. Of course, Apple would not want to lose in the game but we do not see or hear rumors of a foldable iPhone this year. Maybe Apple is waiting to see what features may be lacking or need improvement in the first foldable phone, then address those lacking features or drawbacks in the better foldable iPhone.

 

What Would We Expect?

Foldable phones promise additional or bigger computing screens for the users. Unlike the bigger tablets, the screen is transformable from a phone into a tablet and vice versa. There would be more rooms for your apps to work on and yet the device would still be portable. How cool is that?

2 or 3 screens working together requires considerable amount of power so we are expecting bigger battery capacity of foldable phones as seen in the Galaxy Fold, although in a phone mode, the bigger screen uses less power. Anyway, since the device now is bigger when unfolded, there is plenty of space for mounting a bigger battery or rather 2 batteries working together as in the Galaxy Fold.

On the other hand, with upgrade in processors, as with the latest smartphone models, less energy consumption is possible even for the foldable phone. In that case, a very big battery capacity may not be needed.

Switching from screen to screen requires faster OS and faster apps continuity so developers may need to upgrade their apps to cope up with the abrupt switching from a bigger screen to a smaller one and vice versa.

We are not expecting a very heavy device even if we are seeing a wider and bigger screen. As mentioned above, the glass use in the standard smartphone display was changed to plastic sheet which is thinner and lighter. We can still expect a portable 2-in-1 device in our single hand.

 

Expected Advantage

With the integration of 2(smartphone and tablet modes) or 3 devices(smartphone, tablet, and laptop modes), you can now do multiple tasks wherever you go. Some tasks can only be done in laptop or a tablet but you would not want to carry these devices with you anywhere. With this invention, it is like carrying 2 or 3 devices portable enough to put in your pocket or hold in your hand. Imagine the possibilities and convenience that this foldable phone can bring to our daily lives in the near future.

With the absence of shatter-prone and thick glass, we are expecting a slimmer and lighter device which should make foldable phones more portable even if the screen is made bigger. We are also expecting less breakage of screen since it is now made of special plastic.

 

Foreseen Disadvantage

Most devices with mechanical mechanism usually encounter wear and tear in the long run. Foldable phones will not be different. The portion where the displays meet or flex or fold will be a subject of deterioration if the design is not properly considered. On the other hand, Galaxy Fold promises a 100 thousand times folds and unfolds without any damage. Anyway, if it can last for 2 or 3 years, I think it is forgivable since after that period you would want a brand new device with the latest features.

Current OLED or AMOLED display provides clear and vivid viewing experience. I do not know about this polymer-made screen if they can deliver the same performance as current smartphone’s glass display. The foldable display may not be as appealing as current glass screens. On the other hand, as the competition becomes strict, improvement would be on the way.

Not all people are doing multiple computing tasks in their daily lives. Having a 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 device with you anywhere may not be applicable at all. Not to mention how much this device would cost. Are you willing to spend a whopping $1980 for a foldable device such as the Galaxy Fold if you are just using your phone to call, text, or visit your social media accounts? I think not.

 

CONCLUSION

Flexible display has come a very long way. It took many years before this breakthrough be materialized or rather commercialized which paved the way to foldable smartphone technology. Just very recently, Samsung has released the first foldable phone for commercial use, the Galaxy Fold. It is also the first phone compatible with 5G network.

As of now, we may not see the advantage of owning a $2000 foldable phone but in the very near future, I am sure we would appreciate the convenience this technology can bring to our daily lives. We just need to wait a little longer until the competition naturally bring the price down with more improved features.

What do you think of foldable smartphone? Please share your thoughts or experience below. We would also appreciate if you Click one of the SHARE Buttons below.

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Dan Sicat

20 Comments

  1. Thanks for the article. I have been amazed by the release of the galaxy fold a few days ago and I have wanted to find out the technology behind the new advancement. It was definitely groundbreaking and it is kind of a let down to hear the technology has been around for a while. Technology always  advances and I am sure the the issue of the fold area whill also be addressed. 

    • Actually, it is not a let down. The technology was conceptualized long time ago but its application to smartphone was only now because it is so difficult that need design consideration. I salute Samsung for this. I may say Ideas are good but application is better.

  2. This is insightful and ibappreciate the fact that you shared this lovely article with your blog readers. technology is advancing on daily basis. I love the idea behind foldable smartphone which makes it very attractive to use. I am just getting to know about it from your blog post and with all the specifications i have seen here; I am convinced ot will be one of rhe best phones this year

    • Yes, it is really attractive and tempting to be bought if not only for its staggering price. It could be the best phones this year since other manufacturers plan to release their versions also this year. 2019 is the year of foldable phones. I am excited to see version of Apple.

  3. Technology keep unfolding from time to time. Its amazing to know theres now a foldable smartphone technology from what you made us to read from your article. Its really not a surprise that Samsung which is the biggest manufacturer of OLED display, because i have been using their products for long and i must confess it is always top-notch. I love your review video about the samsung foldable phone, its so precise and lovely, it makes one feel tempted to go buy it instantly. Wonderful review and i must say that, your article has been helpful. Thanks

    • Thank you Dapoach! I am glad you liked this article. Samsung devices are must say very good devices with must-have features aside from Apple. And this time, Samsung has also proved that they are leading in terms on technologies in smartphone.

  4. Hello , 

    at first I wanna give a big thanks to you for sharing this inovative idea with us . That’s very helpful for the people who are into technologies . Most of us are into movies and I must say that foldable device is good for watching movies. I wanna get one  real soon .

    Thanks a lot for this idea . I am informing this idea to my friends. 

    • Yes, if you like watching movies or videos this is perfect but it is more than that. It is so powerful that everybody would want to possess except that it s too expensive now.

  5. Dan,

    Modern technology is advancing quickly, this is something that in the future I would be very interested in considering I have an online business.  Just thinking about not having to lug around a laptop would be great.  The price is going to remain super high until they get some competition, but well worth keeping eyes on as a future investment.  Convenience as business grows will make this a must have truthfully.

    Thank you for bringing this device to my attention.  I am not one to keep up with technology gadgets so by finding articles like yours keeps me up to date with things.

    Susan

    • Thanks Susan for sharing your insights! I think that in the near future we would not need a PC or laptop anymore since everything can be done now in a smartphone. With the release of foldable phones, it is like having 2-in-1 device. Smartphone now are as powerful as latest PC and packed with high-end features.

  6. Nice article on foldable phone.the article is so full of information and enlightenment on foldable 

    it is a known fact that technology is moving really fast. Now new flexible items are been make on a daily that are different from the old ones we know. Especially we are moving closer and closer day by day towards internet of things. As times goes on people will own foldable phones in large numbers since popular brands like Samsung are involve in the making.no doubt Samsung Galaxy fold is a masterpiece for now

    • I agree with you Ajibola! Sooner or later foldbable phone would be inexpensively available and many consumers would able to buy it especially once Chinese makers enter the race. We are not expecting inexpensive foldable phone from Apple though. As for now,  yes, the Galaxy Fold is a masterpiece!

  7. The major challenge that I saw while reading this post is portability  but since i you have given a clue on how it can be improved  through shatter-prone and thick glass I can bet you that it will be a good sell.  The mechanical hinges is not a problem at all.  Samsung is up to the task. 

    • Hi Paschal! I think portability would not be a problem since screen was made from glass to plastic which is thinner and lighter. Its weight would be as with an iPad mini but a little bulky when folded.

  8. You just put up an amazing review. Well thought out article!

    Technology is fast evolving that it’s hard to keep up with it. This foldable smart phone technology is one of them. To get this you need to break a bank to own these foldable smart phones. But with time the price will take a dip especially when Chinese enter the market😁

    • Yes you are absolutely correct Jaykay! Chinese smartphone makers like Huawei and Xiaomi are also developing foldable phones. And we all know that they offer affordable phones with also great features. This competition will force Samsung to lower down its price.

  9. This is a wonderful post and very informative indeed, very recently there has been an influx of technological wonders globally, most especially the latest wonder that is in the Samsung Galaxy S10. The news took the whole world by shock. I personally was awed when I heard and even saw I saw the review, it left me wondering if the uniqueness of this polymer can lead to an exalted hike in price.

    • Thanks Oneal for your insights! Technological advancement in smartphone is really astonishing. Sooner or later we would not want a PC or laptop because everything can be executed in smartphone. Since they took many years before they were able to use special polymer as a display, they have the right to sell it high. However, just like any any other technologies, at first they are very expensive but as it becomes commonly available, the price would go down naturally.

  10. The foldable smartphone is going to be an interesting phone, but I will like to ask this question, we all know that gadget, phones contains micro-chips, electronic board. How folding will not affect those parts, this is still questionable to me, Over time there will be wear and tear of the flex. Hope it is durable and the life span is long.

    • Hi Marshall! The foldable phone just like any other devices contains electronic boards or components. However, current technology can make it possible not to affect these parts as Samsung have done it. The main concern of wear and tear is the mechanical parts, in the case of Galaxy Fold, the hinge mechanism. 

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