Foldable smartphones might be the next big thing if one went by the hype created over the possible announcement of a foldable phone from the South Korean giant Samsung, which is being currently identified as the Galaxy X (or is it Galaxy F?). There are a few points to note here. This is not the first time one is hearing about a foldable phone from Samsung. It has been in the air for a fairly long period. It is not one of those first of its kind concepts either; there are other popular brands like Huawei and Motorola also working on the concept and one US company, Royole has already launched a foldable phone in the market. Despite all these factors, possibly since it is Samsung, it is a top draw and has to be front page news.
Why a Foldable Phone?
The immediate question on everyone’s mind is why should the market look for a foldable phone now? Several points are being put forward; the market is sensing a kind of stagnation in the top end of the smartphone market. The leaders are perhaps seeing a gradual drop in the offtake and some out of the box idea like a foldable phone might just be the answer to kick the market out of the bunker. Some may argue that this is a specious line to take since it is not as if Samsung has a phone ready and can release it tomorrow. The best estimates put the date somewhere in 2019. And the other factor is that the pricing might be so high that the number of units of the Samsung Galaxy X when launched and sold may not amount too much to make a dent in the market.
Another point that may be considered is that with the largest smartphones now being released having reached a sort of limit in terms of the size, a foldable smartphone could do that job of taking the screen size to over 7 inches, like the FlexPai phone from Royole. That way, foldable phone can kill many birds with a single stone. Offer a larger screen and at the folded size, it could sit compact in one’s pocket or handbag.
Several Challenges Still Remain
With a dispassionate analysis of the entire concept at a more micro level and from the technology perspective, a few points do emerge. One of them relates to the foldability of the screen and what would be its lifecycle. Royole claims its Flexpai phone has been tested for 200,000 times opening and closing without causing any difference to the screen material or to the display quality. But then they have used plastic material while the industry has moved on to glass, which may not be as flexible as plastic unless a new technology is invented.
If the Concept Works, It Can be a Huge Hit
The real doubt in the minds of those who wish the foldable phone from Samsung becomes a reality would be if Samsung can pull it off and go ahead with the risk it will be taking by staking its all. It is not too long back that the company recovered from the Note 7 battery fiasco. If the foldable phone were to run into any glitches, it could be a very serious issue for the whole company.
On the other hand, if Samsung does go ahead and put the new gadget in the market and succeed, it would be a great thing for the industry. There are many possibilities with a foldable screen that opens up and it can change the market paradigm in little or no time.