The first generation of foldable smartphones from Samsung and Huawei have now been announced. Samsung has introduced the Galaxy Fold, equipped with a flexible screen that folds inwards. Consumers can purchase this foldable smartphone from May this year. Huawei chooses the Mate X for a totally different design, with the display on the outside. This foldable device will only be available later.
Foldable telephones in all kinds of variants
Samsung is expected to release several models in the coming years. In addition to the above models, both of which unfold into a tablet size screen, foldable clamshell phones are also being developed. Motorola will probably be the first manufacturer to release a folding phone in the form of a new RAZR smartphone.
A new RAZR smartphone was is also in working which is a special alternative from Samsung. This foldable Samsung phone namely had a clamshell design with the display on the outside when the device is folded. Have we then had all model variants? No, it is expected that bendable phone models will also be introduced in the long term, these are so flexible that the entire phone can change shape.
This creates the possibility to use a large telephone screen when you want to use the device intensively. Are you on your way? Then simply bend the phone around your wrist. It can therefore also directly offer an alternative to the smartwatch. Various market reports show that the wearable market is on the rise and will continue to grow in the coming years.
However, the smartwatch has one major disadvantage, the size of the display. The smartwatch must, after all, continue to fit around your wrist and also feel comfortable. Although manufacturers are working to incorporate more functions into the watch band, it would, of course, be ideal if you could easily bend the mobile device into a fully-fledged smartphone.
Flexible Samsung phone to use as a smartwatch
Halfway through last year, Samsung Electronics filed a patent with the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) for a ‘Shape-retaining structure of the electronic device and electronic device including same’. The patent was published on March 7, 2019.
The patent describes a mobile phone with a flexible display. The flexible Samsung phone can bend in one direction and curls up, as it were. This makes it possible to wear a flexible telephone on your wrist. When the bendable smartphone is fully opened, you have an elongated display at your disposal. Due to the narrow shape, the phone remains easy to operate with one hand. At the top and bottom, we see a fairly wide edge, in which all sensors are processed.
Due to the flexible design, the device will tend to automatically roll up again. To prevent this, you can lock this Samsung bendable phone, for this, a narrow slider has been fitted on the back that you can operate with your index finger. When the user pushes it down, the smartphone can be used in the unfolded position, and therefore no longer automatically fold back to the curved position.
In addition, a magnet is placed at both ends of the telephone, which attract each other when the flexible telephone is rolled up. This way, the mobile device stays nicely on your wrist and cannot just lose weight. A camera is visible to the left of the sliding mechanism. The patent description does not elaborate on the functionality of the camera system. The SIM card can be inserted on the top and the bottom offers a space for a connection to charge the device.
The back of the Samsung smartphone is provided with an elastic plate that bends flexibly in the desired direction. Various materials can be used for this, including stainless steel material. Furthermore, the device has a lot of small links that make it possible to bend. These are designed in such a way that the outside feels smooth, this will improve the wearing comfort, according to the patent description.
Bendable telephones in the future
To develop a roll-up telephone as Samsung has patented, many hardware components will have to be flexible. Consider the battery, the circuit board, and the antenna. Much of this technology is now available.
Yet the question remains how such a flexible device will be experienced in practice. Although it looks super futuristic of course, wearing comfort can sometimes become the bottleneck. If it does not feel comfortable around the wrist, the device will also be used considerably less, after which it will soon end up in the back of the cabinet. It is not only the shape that must be taken into account, but the weight is also important.
Lenovo already showed in 2016 a concept of a flexible phone that you can bend around your wrist. We have heard a little more about this smartphone afterward. However, there is another company that announced the same year a stylish bendable phone that you can wear on your wrist, the Chinese start-up Moxi Group. There was, however, one but this model, although the promotional photos would have you believe otherwise, the display was only black and white. A color variant would be planned for 2018, but we have not heard of this until now.
Nevertheless, there is a good chance that several manufacturers will develop a flexible device. When we can expect the first copies is still unclear. We will probably first see other variations of the foldable phone, including a clamshell design.