Very soon, our idea of a smartphone or a handheld screen device is going to change very drastically. The “ice-age” old smartphone design with a boxy shape, a rectangular form factor, a single 5 or 6-inch screen on the front of the device and a camera on the back is what I call antique. This is all going to change, the point being single screen and a whole lot of features that comes with it. After nearly a decade of research and experiments, we are finally hearing from big companies like Samsung and Microsoft about their upcoming foldable device (aside from ZTE Axon M). Is it time that we welcome another category in smartphones? Let’s find out.
Image credit: Business Insider
At this time of the year, when we are considering which device to buy, we look out for the best specs like the amount of RAM in the phone or the pixel count of the front facing camera, or even the placement of the fingerprint scanner. But soon enough, we will be asking ourselves if we need another screen on our phones, and believe me, this will change your phone buying guide in time to come. The idea of a foldable smartphone evidently pampers us with enhanced multitasking as unfolding the phone reveals a bigger and taller screen. As of now, all we could do is to split the screen into half and pin any two recent apps for multitasking, but with foldable smartphones, it is clearly an advantage as multitasking on your device defines usability on a whole new level with the extra screen space of the unfolded part. This makes the recent apps menu on our Android phones seem a lot less useful when we could pin any of our recent apps onto the unfolded part of the screen for more working space, just like how we would do on a dual display setup with computers, which is already an established aspect in the computing world. While not only multitasking becomes better, the better part of gaming has just begun as more controls could be fed to the extra screen so we won’t see all of the information crammed on a tiny screen. Just as foldable devices are indicating that smartphones can be folded, it would simply blow our minds off if the screen can be folded in different ways.
More “mind-bending” phone interactions
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All this while, smartphone manufacturers have been increasingly adding user functionality like squeeze feature or the side tap option to trigger a certain command to provide users the simplest method to use their phones, but when foldable smartphones do make an appearance in the market, we will definitely see a lot more user functionalities or interactions that we could have possibly imagined but didn’t expect them to be here anytime soon. But the time is now. Neither will we hear more about squeezing our phones to activate some controls nor will we shake to wake certain apps, but this time around, we will be bending our phones to make controls or flexing the screen to take a picture, this is how spellbinding as it sounds. Of course, if we think from a gamer’s perspective, it is even more enticing as more gesture controls will be included with a foldable display and gaming on a phone has never sounded so crazy. The extent of bending of a foldable display will shape how we interact with the device as it opens up more interaction methods.
Say no to cracked screens
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Many a times we are drowned by the sad news of spending a huge sum of money to repair our cracked screens on our smartphones. Foldable smartphones are here to provide a temporary solution as foldable screens are meant to be flexible and thus, the property of flexibility renders greater durability of withstanding impact. Although flexible screens may not entirely solve the problem as a 100 feet drop will definitely shatter almost any glass part of your device, they are here to increase the lifespan of your smartphone while in your pocket. On the flip side, how manufacturers will develop this kind of glass will depend on how much they are willing to spend to manufacture the device, and if flexibility does not come with greater durability, I don’t think foldable devices are worth making the cut. Looking at the bright side, with the flexibility of foldable screen on top of the availability of Corning Gorilla Glass that are widely present in devices nowadays, it is time our phones should last more than a dozen drops.
One camera is enough
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It will not be surprising if we explain how cameras on a smartphone will improve with foldable device. In fact, it has been a while for manufacturers to focus mainly on the primary shooter to save up cost and resources for the front-facing cameras, which always leads to the former being the better camera than the latter. However, with foldable smartphones, probably ones that fold outwards, manufacturers can put more of their attention on the main camera and make it excel in the camera category, and in turn it will function as both the primary and front-facing camera. This way we will have the highest quality image for our selfies and also food photos. The better part of this is that manufacturing only one camera on a device actually frees up more space in the internal for other components that eat up space like battery. I understand that cameras on a foldable device isn’t much of a big news compared to how smartphones will be able to fold soon, but if the front-facing camera is as good as the primary shooter, this smartphone is worth folding for.
A new category for smartphones
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Ever wonder what other categories can smartphones lie in? Well, this could be it. The foldable device coming very soon either from Samsung or Microsoft will be able to open up new markets for wider range of options for consumers. This is actually good news as consumers are not only getting the premium flagship devices from these tech companies, but they can also opt for one of their special category smartphones. Whether this will spice up competition for the smaller tech companies like OnePlus and Oppo, foldable devices are definitely coming soon for a new spot in the market, not to mention that these small tech companies can actually focus more on their own game in creating better devices and in time to come, they can catch up with bigger companies while offering value-for-price smartphones. What more if they can actually pick up the same foldable design and make them more affordable for consumers, just like how the current OnePlus devices are priced at with premium features and specs. This new category for smartphones will indicate a tighter competition among manufacturers but a wider range of options for consumers.
Better versions of tablets
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If you are wondering where all the tablets have gone, you are reading the answer. With tablets being under the radar for many reasons, the appearance of foldable smartphones may actually entirely eliminate tablets at its own game. In fact, smartphones nowadays are behaving more like a personal handheld computer and it is just a matter of time before they transform into our daily driver of a PC, and smartphones merging with tablets as one device isn’t news anymore as foldable devices function exactly the same way alongside touchscreen laptops. Being a student has made me realize that taking notes in class are far better on a laptop with a keyboard together with a touchscreen option instead of a tablet with a pen only, and if foldable devices are to come into the picture, it is hard not to think that they are a better replacement than tablets in years to come.
Microsoft’s Andromeda and Samsung Galaxy X could be the earliest foldable device that we can see very soon as rumors are heating up pretty quickly (Huawei could be in the game too). But if foldable smartphones are going to heat up the market, they will need to ace all the primary pillars of a great smartphone and add in a couple functions that serve as a foldable device, or else foldable devices will just be another tablet history. But of course, the idea of a foldable smartphone has already brought so much hype around it and it will be, in my opinion, the greatest change to how we use a mobile device.