Where Is My Foldable Smartphone?
April 02, 2018
Last week, Qualcomm suggested that Samsung would not release a foldable phone in 2018. This week, after visiting Apple suppliers in China, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst suggests that Apple is working on a foldable iPhone targeted at a 2020 release. While both Samsung and Lenovo have demoed folding phones, Motorola has been dropping the hardest hints that a new phone may be on the horizon. Last October, a Korean media outlet reported that Apple was teaming up with LG, stating that Apple would order foldable OLED panels that could start production in 2020. The company is yet to comment on this. Although companies such as Samsung and Lenovo have the money and technology to throw behind a foldable phone, Apple’s status as a mainstream leader could turn what may be considered a “niche” product into the next must-have. The big question is – what would a foldable iPhone look like? Hopefully, it won’t be created in the same vein as the ZTE Axon M, with two screens that open like a book and software that lets you go full screen. Whatever the design may be, to be a successful Apple product it needs to tick certain boxes. In its compact state, it will have to look familiar to an iPhone, be compatible with Face ID, allow Siri to be dual screen savvy and – ultimately – be better than what’s on the market today.
We have seen both Samsung’s and LG’s foldable phones and they both fold outward and show a single or dual screen with no tiling. However, it seems a little uncomfortable to have to open the phone just to look at the display. An infolding design, where the 1 display is always available (similar to todays form factor) may be the most useable architecture. But it would require the tightest folding ratio and the highest stress.
Table 1: Foldable Phone Types