Technology has advanced massively over the years and many people immediately think that advancement involves the creation of a new concept but the reality maybe old ideas with better implementation is the true future. This is the brutal truth when it comes to the smartphone industry as more flip/ fold able phones pop up on the market. The idea of a large screen form factor being folded into manageable size is extremely appealing to the general public due to infinite multitasking capabilities. The clamshell design was mainly popular in the 1970’s thanks to Motorola but over the time many phone companies incorporated it into their design.
The flip phone was originally popularized as it just made sense to have the added ability to incorporate a keyboard design and also allow for a larger screen to be placed in a manageable footprint. Originally most handheld devices had the form factor of a Blackberry which caused it to have a wide build but the flip phone has a slimmer folio to it. The 70’s was definitely a fashionable period of history and people were finding new ways to implement glitz and glamour into products. Most flip phones at the time were encrusted with pearls and sapphires to appeal for the wealthy and it also had a cool aspect to it.
Businessmen relished with the ability to create a sense of importance through the flip gesture. It had a satisfying aspect to it when using the device as well. The flip phone at the time was also considered futuristic and in most cases were the phones of choice for movies such as the matrix. The flip phone was however shadowed by the creation of touch screen devices which killed off the need for a physical keyboard. Smartphones took over and nobody really looked back at the flip design at least until foldable oled panels came to existence. These flexible panels will be the key to resurrect a brilliant design choice that was long forgotten.
The Next Big Thing
FlexPai is the world’s first commercial foldable smartphone with a flexible display, a combination of smartphone and tablet. It was officially launched on Oct. 31, 2018 in Beijing. This product was unfortunately a massive flop due to its unpolished UI and jagged build quality. In all honesty it wasn’t considered a finished product but it did revolutionize a brand new market space. This next big thing was widely covered by the media being the first to really tackle a concept that most tech giants fear but even during the release of the FlexPai rumors were floating around about the release of the first Samsung Galaxy Fold and this truly raised a lot of questions.
A company as renown as Samsung surely has a more polished product and this was the truth. Samsung managed to nail a product that was actually ready for the marketplace due to the polished finish and well thought out operating system. The main complaint for the first Fold was the small front screen but this was a small sacrifice considering how futuristic the entire phone was. It brought forward so many capabilities form a productivity standpoint that the main worry from an engineering standpoint was the hinge design. Much like how the pop up front facing camera brought forward the question of durability, the hinge was also a big unanswered question.
Samsung did face a lot of problems when it came to durability for this phone as many units started to break over time. Specks of dust would get caught in the mechanism causing there to be force applied on the screen resulting in disastrous cracks. Samsung recalled the affected units and many thought that would be end of the concept but instead another company rose to the challenge and it was none other than Motorola itself. The company that first revolutionized the idea was back to claim the throne but the main downside was the release date which was on the 13th of November 2019, roughly around the same time of the Samsung Fold.
The downfall of the Razr was that it seemed dated in comparison to the Fold even though they were slightly around the same price point. The Razr also had a narrower screen which made content consumption a bit odd due to the aspect ratio. Regardless the hinge was done right and many people enjoyed the nostalgia. The main question is nostalgia really worth $1,500 and even if it is Motorola isn’t really as much of a big player these days so does the company hold enough credibility to pull off such a hefty price tag.
The Next Flipping Generation
“Let’s go invent tomorrow instead of worrying about what happened yesterday.”
After the success of the first generation of products, out came more that wanted to dominate the market space. At first it seemed like Samsung would monopolize the market for a long period of time but that changed with the release of the Motorola Razr 2 which clearly showed who was the king of flip phones by enlarging the front display to show the Galaxy Z Flip how tech should be built. This was one the major complaints of the Z Flip which was the nearly useless front display that only managed to show notifications but Motorola came out and made it a full blown functional display.
This doesn’t mean Samsung had bent the knee in fact they did the exact opposite by releasing yet another phone which was the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold and this should not be confused with the Z Flip which are 2 completely different products. The Z Fold is the second generation of the fold and this time it looks extremely appealing for buyers with the beautiful outer display that has been enlarged. Not to mention the screen to body ratio of the internal displays have also been increased.
Just when people thought the marketplace got stale, Microsoft comes out with the Surface Duo which is not only their first foldable but in fact Microsoft’s first true attempt at the smartphone industry. Now this was not a conventional foldbale due to the hinge design which is something the company is known for due to their Surface Book lineup. The design of the the device was amazing and people were loving it, the downfall was in the software and internals which were expected. This is a first gen product after all, the idea was there but the execution needed more polish. Fingers crossed for the next one and hopefully that will be a banger.
Finally we have the latest approach for a hybrid foldable, it has a sort of swivel mechanism and this was released by LG. The smartphone market in 2020 just keeps throwing out surprises. LG came out of nowhere with a brand new design that views multi tasking in brand new light by implementing an amazing way to consume content in landscape mode as well staying productive with a vertical display at the bottom. This brand new design may just pop up even more in the future but only time can tell as the user experience is yet to be tested.
The Future is Now
Foldable or flip phones may just be the new future considering the fact that many mainstream names have moved into this space. With names such as Samsung, Motorola and Microsoft, its only a matter of time before this oddity becomes the new normal. More people are trying to find innovative ways to maximize screen real estate and increase productivity by implementing new methods to interact with your smartphone. To date this seems like the most viable and logical approach considering the fact that consumers are just reliving an innovation of the past that is polished for the future.
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