The future of smartphone form factors.
With smartphones now boasting huge screens often bigger than 6-inches in size, or in the case of Huawei’s new Mate 20 X, a massive 7.2-inches, we’ve started to hit the point where going bigger isn’t really feasible – at least not with our current display tech, and not unless phone holsters make a big comeback. Fortunately, the days of slab- like smartphone form factors may soon be over as many companies are rushing to be the first to market a flexible folding smartphone that will let you have an even bigger display, but with the ability to fold it up and keep it in your pocket.
Samsung is one of the biggest players in the flexible display race, and its Galaxy F folding phone is expected to be unveiled at MWC next month. Samsung’s smartphone is rumored to have a 4.5- inch display on the outside, which can be opened up like a book to reveal a 7.3-inch flexible display on the inside.
But a simple folding design isn’t the only type of flexible display we could see this year. At its developer conference last year in November, Samsung hinted that it is developing many other types of flexible displays, including one that can be stretched out in all directions. And Samsung isn’t the only manufacturer pursuing these other form factors. Motorola, LG, Apple, and Huawei have all filed patents related to flexible displays on smart devices, and not all of them look like the Galaxy F. LG has already demonstrated a 65-inch rollable OLED TV, so what about a smartphone that could be rolled up around a pen-like form factor, or pulled out of a cylinder like a scroll?
It’s not just major manufacturers experimenting with flexible form factors either. Chinese phone manufacturer Nubia is using flexible displays to combine wearables with smartphones, and its Nubia Alpha concept phone features a large flexible OLED display that wraps around a user’s wrist. In the U.S., Turing Robotic Industries has been developing the Hubblephone, a futuristic smartphone with three screens that all fold out from the main body, as well as a curved OLED display which wraps around the upper edge.
In fact, despite its massive R&D budget, Samsung won’t actually be the first brand to make a folding display smartphone. That honor goes to small Chinese manufacturer Royole, whose foldable FlexPai smartphone was released late last year for the Chinese domestic market. The FlexPai only has a single 7.8-inch display, but it can be folded in half to make two smaller displays, or to put in your pocket. It’s available to order right now, with prices starting at 8,999 yuan (~$1,800).
PICTURES NUBIA, ROYOLE, TURING, AEROCAR INTERNATIONAL, UBER, TERRAFUGIA