The end of 2019 - the era of folding smartphones begins. The latest version of Android 10 has built-in support for new design features. After months of refinement, the Galaxy Fold finally went on sale in the United States. By the end of the year, several more folding devices will appear in stores, and next year there will be even more (including the potential development of Apple). It turns out that very soon each of us will be able to evaluate from personal experience how convenient and practical the new design is.
The attractiveness of folding smartphones is obvious: the user gets a compact mobile phone, without losing the opportunity to work with a large tablet-like screen. However, there are unpleasant nuances. Suffice it to recall the delayed launches of Galaxy Fold and Mate X: Samsung and Huawei tried their best to make their first innovative products make a good impression, but failed to foresee all the difficulties.
Despite the fact that folding smartphones go on sale later than expected, they are still a driving force in the world of mobile technology. Motorola is hinting that soon - on November 13th - the Razr cult clamshell will be restarted in a new guise. It is also expected that Huawei Mate X will go on sale in the last month of autumn, and in all likelihood it will be a limited batch. You can read about all this (and much more) below.
- Samsung Galaxy Fold 1 Samsung Galaxy Fold
- Huawei Mate X 2 Huawei Mate X
- Royole FlexPai 3 Royole FlexPai
- Motorola 4 Motorola
- Microsoft Surface Duo 5 Microsoft Surface Duo
- Xiaomi 6 Xiaomi
- Oppo 7 oppo
- ZTE 8 ZTE
- LG 9 LG
- Sony Xperia F 10 Sony Xperia F
- Другие прототипы 11 Other prototypes
- 2020: Apple? 12 2020: Apple?
Samsung Galaxy Fold
In September, Samsung began shipping Galaxy Fold at a price of $ 1980 (126 thousand rubles). The slightly improved mobile phone is accessible not only to famous tech-bloggers, but also to ordinary people. Surveyors agree that the Galaxy Fold is without a doubt an innovative product, but not too practical: it is not suitable for everyday use.
Initially, it was planned to be released at the end of April, but the launch had to be postponed, since testers had serious problems with the display. Later, the head of Samsung’s mobile technology division, D.J. Koch, called the launch of the Galaxy Fold “shameful” and admitted in an interview that he himself insisted on the smartphone’s release “before it's ready.”
There were two problems with the Galaxy Fold screen. Some of the surveyors unknowingly stripped off the protective film , which in no case could be touched. In addition, it turned out that between the hinge Galaxy and its display, small debris easily penetrates, which quickly destroys the screen.
Samsung took several months to fix the flaws. The area of the protective layer has increased, now it goes beyond the front panel. According to designers, users should no longer have an instinctive desire to disrupt it. Open hinge elements are protected in the form of caps. In general, the updated design provides fewer gaps between the hinges and the smartphone body.
The Galaxy Fold uses the Infinity Flex display introduced by Samsung last year. When deployed, you can interact with the device through a 7.3-inch display. The Continuity function allows you to quickly transfer applications from a small display to a large one and continue working with it without losing data. In multitasking mode, Galaxy Fold is able to run three applications at once.
The battery is divided into two parts - one for each panel. The total capacity of 4380 mAh. In test mode, using only a large display, Galaxy Fold can last about 10 hours, which is very worthy for a device of this type. The main hardware component is a 7nm processor with 12GB of RAM. For shooting, the Galaxy Fold offers six cameras: three on the back, two inside and one in front.
Samsung does not stop there. It is known that along with the promotion of Galaxy Fold, the company is developing new models of folding devices. So, in one of the reports, a design is proposed that is very similar to the Huawei Mate X. There is an assumption that the 2020 Galaxy Fold version will receive an 8-inch display and S Pen support as in the Galaxy Note. Rumor has it that Samsung may release a clamshell device, something like Motorola's Razr. Various patent applications indicate that Samsung has other innovative developments related to flexible displays, for example, a smartphone that folds in two places, and a device that can be wrapped around the wrist. But we must not forget that these are just patents, maybe they will never find application in commercial products (at least certainly not in 2019). Nevertheless, they confirm how seriously Samsung takes the idea of folding devices.
Huawei Mate X
A folding smartphone from Huawei appeared in public at the beginning of 2019. From the presentation to sales, more time passed than expected, and in the end it was priced even more expensive than the Galaxy Fold - at € 2299 (163 thousand rubles).
When expanded, the Mate X is similar to an 8-inch tablet. Fold it and get two displays - the main front at 6.6 ”and an additional 6.4” at the back. The latter can be used as a mirror for portrait shooting (Huawei is still silent about camera capabilities). The folded Mate X has a thickness of only 11 mm. There is no gap between the panels; the smartphone is easily put into your pocket without clinging to anything.
The flagship power is provided by the Kirin 980 processor. Thanks to the Balong 5000 modem, it is possible to connect to 5G . A pair of batteries with a total capacity of 4500 mAh are responsible for powering the displays and other components.
The launch of this smartphone was scheduled for June, but Huawei pushed it until October. In a summer interview with CNBC, a company spokesperson explained that they needed to conduct additional testing to avoid problems that delayed the launch of the Galaxy Fold: “We don’t want to release a product that would ruin our reputation.”
Apparently Mate X will be released in two versions. The first, October 2019, will work on the basis of the Kirin 980 chipset, and the recently introduced Kirin 990 with an integrated 5G module can become the basis for future versions of Mate X.
Speaking about Huawei, one cannot but mention the tensions that have arisen between the company and the US government. The Department of Commerce currently prohibits U.S. organizations from buying Huawei telecommunications equipment and providing Chinese employees with access to their hardware and software without special permission (the United States and China reached a short cease-fire on the last point, but it expires in November). Huawei claims that this will not affect its ability to produce and maintain Mate X models, since the device was announced before the ban took effect. Nevertheless, American buyers are most likely not to see the official delivery of the Mate X.
While Samsung and Huawei hinted about their plans, the insidious Chinese David defeated both Goliaths at once: the world's first foldable smartphone debuted in November last year, and became FlexPai from the little-known manufacturer Royole. The device has a 7.8-inch screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1440. Its physical dimensions in the open form are 134 x 190 x 7.6 mm, weight 320 g.
FlexPai is based on the Snapdragon 855 , it has two 16 and 20 MP cameras, 8 GB of system memory and 128 GB of permanent memory. This is a model for developers, it is offered for $ 1318 (84 thousand rubles). There is also a consumer version, it is sold only in China. The first batch of FlexPai scattered quickly, but the manufacturer did not stop accepting orders on the site, which indicates its readiness to issue additional batches. When placing an order, the buyer is warned that up to 90 days may elapse from the moment of placing the order to its dispatch.
Royole FlexPai was one of the most curious exhibits at CES in early 2019. Those who managed to hold it in their hands report that the interface is much smoother than it seems on the commercials. The smartphone can be used as a tablet in full screen mode, as a smartphone in the folded and in tent mode. However, the general impression of him is dominated by a sense of incompleteness: he could have been better, but he was pushed into the market in a hurry in order to get ahead of larger players.
The once-popular brand owned today by Lenovo , China, is about to revive the legendary Razr, but in the form of a foldable smartphone. At least, such a conclusion can be made, judging by the patents that the Dutch technoblog Mobielkopen discovered.
According to TechRadar, Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing claims that folding display technology could be the key to returning the Razr, a compact, 6.5-inch folding device: “New technologies — especially folding displays — will become the basis of many design innovations in our a smartphone. I hope that what we just talked about [Razr] will be implemented soon. ”
The patent application for the corresponding product was found in the database of the World Intellectual Property Office, and a few weeks later, Yanko Design specialists presented their render (photo below), created on the basis of the thumbnails attached to the patent.
In an interview with Engadget, Motorola later confirmed plans for a foldable smartphone. “We're not going to lag behind others,” said Dan Dary, Motorola's vice president of global products.
So the folding Razr will come out. And then there remains only one question: when exactly? It is likely that we will know the answer very soon. A few days ago, Motorola published a teaser about the event on November 13 in Los Angeles, and a lot of it hints at the presentation of a foldable smartphone.
Microsoft surface duo
Microsoft is also hoping to take part in the foldable smartphone market. At the October event dedicated to the release of new Surface Series laptops, the company introduced the Surface Duo device. This is a mobile phone running Android (yes, it is Android, not Windows) with a pair of 5.6-inch displays. Special hinges allow 360-degree panning of the panels, so the device can be used both as a tablet and as a smartphone.
If the screens are arranged parallel to each other, the user can work simultaneously with several programs, stretch one application on both screens or use the second screen as a keyboard. Microsoft promises to use a thin body that will give the Surface Duo an advantage over more massive competitors like the Galaxy Fold.
However, sales are still a long way off. Microsoft plans to release a smartphone with two screens no earlier than the New Year holidays. Price has not yet been announced.
The Surface Duo is not the only dual-display development Microsoft has. The company is also working on a Surface Neo with a pair of 9-inch screens and a 360-degree hinge. As an operating system, it uses Windows 10X. Sales will begin at best by the end of next year.
Xiaomi folding smartphone has already gone from prototype to a more or less working model, ready to appear in a commercial. The video itself hints that the company paid special attention to the external component. The device consists of three panels; when folded, it looks compact, although quite thick.
The latest video published in Weibo, demonstrates the design features. Xiaomi is supposedly called Xiaomi Dual Flex or Xiaomi Mix Flex. The date of the start of sales has not yet been announced.
That Oppo is also developing a foldable smartphone, rumors have been circulating since the Mobielkopen website discovered several relevant patent applications. Recently, company representatives said they were ready to bring the foldable smartphone into mass production if buyers show sufficient interest.
Weibo found collapsible prototype photos posted by Oppo vice president Brian Shen. Little is known about the technical characteristics of the development. Like Huawei, Oppo preferred a design in which the device folds outward.
In addition, information recently appeared about a new, even more interesting Oppo patent: it describes a folding mobile device with a retractable camera. But it is still unclear whether Oppo intends to develop this or any other prototype of a non-standard smartphone in the near future.
The 2017 Axon M was more disastrous than folding. Nevertheless, the company is not going to give up. In an interview, vice president of marketing Jeff Yee mentioned that they are preparing “something really flexible.”
Among the company's patents were found descriptions of two unusual designs at once: a smartphone-book and a device with a bendable display. According to the schematic drawings, only the design can be judged; there is no information on the physical dimensions and other details. At what stage are the development data, it is also not yet known.
Earlier it was rumored that LG was working on a smartphone, which was supposed to appear at the Mobile World Congress last spring. However, then the presentation of the company was mostly standard, without grand revelations. The features of the new LG G8 ThinQ and LG V50 ThinQ with 5G support were revealed, and then LG President Kwon Bon-Sok told the Korea Times that it was too early to release a foldable smartphone: “We considered the idea of announcing a foldable device when launching a 5G smartphone, but so far decided to postpone. " Instead of folding development, the manufacturer focused on fifth-generation communication technologies.
Although LG does not refuse dual screens, its perception of the trend is very different from what other manufacturers are striving for. At the IFA exhibition, LG demonstrated the G8x ThinQ Dual Screen - a modular smartphone that can work with an additional 6.4-inch OLED panel, which is housed in a closed case. The price and delivery date have not been disclosed, but there is an assumption that the LG G8x ThinQ Dual Screen will be available before the end of 2019.
That's not all. During CES, Technology Director and President of LG Electronics I.P. Park said the company is working on different types of structures - not only folding, but also flexible.
Applications for registration of new trademarks indicate that the developers have already decided on the names of new devices. In the applications mentioned three brands - Flex, Foldi and Duplex. The word Flex is already used in the name of the curved smartphone LG G Flex 2. The latter may refer to a monoblock device with two displays. It is logical to assume that the Foldi is somehow connected with a folding display.
There is another patent dated November 20, 2018, which shows one of the potential developments of LG folding type:
Sony Xperia F
There is information about Sony ’s folding developments, but it has been obtained from only one source (from the Chinese CNMO website), so taking it 100% seriously is not worth it yet.
Details are scarce. According to reports, the first folding smartphone Sony Xperia F will have an aspect ratio of 21: 9, and its presentation will take place no earlier than 2020. One demo video, however, is ready.
In recent years, Sony is not doing very well. The Xperia line no longer brings as much profit as before, especially in the US market. The company is simply obliged to try something new, and 2020 could be a watershed in its history. While there are not too many competitors, and Sony has a unique chance to study the shortcomings of the first generation of foldable smartphones to bring a successful product to the market. But this is only if the company's management is interested in such a strategy.
In the future, other manufacturers will definitely join the creation of folding smartphones, especially if the first generation Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X prove to be in demand.
One of the most interesting developments is Sharp . The company came up with something like a candy bar, which folds in half. An unusual solution is that part of the screen when folded remains open, presumably so that the user can see the time and read the incoming notifications. Dutch blog LetsGoDigital used Sharp's patent applications to visualize how such a device might look in life:
Google has some interesting patents. They describe a smartphone that folds in two and three places. Since Android already has built-in support for non-standard screens, there is no doubt that in the future a foldable mobile phone will replenish the Pixel line.
And finally, Apple. So far, the Cupertinians have not made official statements regarding plans for the production of a foldable iPhone . However, without any doubt they glance in the direction of new design solutions. One of the company's patents describes a hinge mechanism for electronic devices.