The Future of Smartphones is Unfolding Before Us

With the announcement of the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X, foldable smartphones are the biggest news in tech right now. The devices were announced within a week of each other and, while they’re very different, they’re just the beginning of a trend that will continue to grow. Here’s what you need to know about these two devices and this emerging trend.


What is a foldable smartphone?


Foldable smartphones are essentially smartphones that convert into tablets by unfolding, doubling their screen size. While they’re folded, these phones are about the size of a regular smartphone albeit thicker. Once unfolded they double in size, allowing them to offer a tablet experience.


Samsung Galaxy Fold vs. Huawei Mate X


So far only be two foldable smartphones have been announced. So, how do the Samsung Fold and the Huawei Mate X compare? Well both phones fold and run on Android, but the similarities end there.


Announced last week, the Samsung Galaxy Fold has one small screen on the outside of the phone and one large screen on the inside, opening like a book. The exterior screen is 6.4” while the interior is 7.3”. It has six cameras and comes with 4G or 5G. Set to launch in April, the Samsung Galaxy Fold will hit the Canadian market at around $2,600.


The Huawei Mate X, which was announced at Mobile World Congress several days later, takes a different approach to folding. This device has just one screen on the outside that gives you two screens in the folded position: one that is 6.6” and another that is 6.38”. When unfolded, these screens become one large screen. To make it possible for the screen to bend enough to fold, Huawei uses polymer instead of glass for these screens.


Housing the phone’s four cameras and acting as a hand grip, the Huawei Mate X has a “wing” on the back (the side that is 6.38” when folded). It’s a clever design detail that makes it easier to hold onto the device while giving the cameras a home. This device comes with 5G only and will launch in June at around $3,500.


The future of foldable smartphones


Obviously the price tags of these devices are astronomical and it may not seem likely that they’ll become mainstream devices anytime soon. So what does the future of foldable phones look like? Well, I anticipate that the prices of these devices will drop significantly as manufacturers find ways to mass-produce them efficiently and as more manufacturers release their own foldable smartphones. In fact, there are even rumours that Apple has filed a patent for a foldable smartphone.


For now, we can think of these devices as developer devices, giving app developers the opportunity to figure out how to develop apps for their unique form factor and functionality. Of course, there will be some consumers who shell out to get their hands on the hottest tech as well.

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