Mobile phone manufacturers like Samsung and LG have been throwing money at the development of a foldable phone for some time now in hopes to be the first to launch the smartphone world into a new age of form. Companies have toyed with a number of designs, most of which have been written off as clunky and impractical.
For example, in 2017, Axon announced their idea for a foldable design, which was essentially just two touch screens attached through a hinge. But a true foldable phone requires the screen itself to bend, according to Tech Crunch. They wrote an article a few months ago criticizing The Royole Corporation’s foldable design, the Flex Pai, for poor execution as a result of rushing to win the race to bring foldable technology to fruition.
Despite their skepticism surrounding the technology, TechCrunch is still intrigued by the possibilities of foldable smartphones, writing, “This is the year smartphones become fun again. With their back to the corner, facing flagging sales, smartphone makers are taking leaps.”
Though Royole is the first company to manufacture a truly foldable device, it has failed to impress those with concerns surrounding usability and consumer-focused design. Not to mention it runs for an absurd ¥8,999 (around $1,300).
Google responded to the poorly designed phone with an announcement of its own plans to secure the lead in the foldable technology race: “You can think of the device as both a phone and a tablet, Broadly, there are two variants — two-screen devices and one-screen devices. When folded, it looks like a phone, fitting in your pocket or purse,” described Android VP Dave Burke. “The defining feature for this form factor is something we call screen continuity.”
Last year, Samsung unveiled its own plans to make the technology a reality. At a two-hour keynote presentation last year, they devoted forty-five seconds to a video that highlighted the company’s foldable prototype design.
Other companies like Xiaomi, Motorola, and Huawei have toyed with foldable prototypes, but it’ll be a while before any company is mass producing these designs for the commercial marketplace.