The smartphone revolution is ready to take in foldable devices. As of the moment, there is no clarity as to who will dominate the foldable phones market. However, there are three major companies that are at the forefront, namely Samsung, Lenovo, LG, Apple, and Microsoft.
The current smartphones are reliable but its rectangular shape has started to become a boring necessity. The upcoming trend of handsets that twist, bend, snap and fold will reinvigorate the industry. Nonetheless, consumers have to acknowledge the fact that there will be twists and turns to achieve it. Foldable handsets are visually cool but its actual use allows innovators to push boundaries in this market.
Here are the four companies creating foldable phones:
Samsung worked on the foldable display for several years. Dubbed as the Galaxy X, the phone is expected to become the next flagship of the company. Information about the phone has been slowly leaking out, giving the public a glimpse of the device.
The patent application for the device revealed a series of renders. The patent illustrated the smartphone’s hinge from various angles. The diagram showed a device looking like a clamshell. The design resembled a makeup compact. The concept folds out into the traditional rectangular smartphone shape.
The location of the camera lens is on the top of the closed ‘clamshell’, which is the area that becomes the rear of the unfolded phone. The selfie camera and speaker are inside once the phone is folded. Additionally, the bottom screen has a curved edge, which is visible when the phone is close. Presumably, it might serve as a notification ticker, then a secondary display at the back of the device.
With Lenovo’s first prototype, users will slap and wrap the phone on their wrists. The next prototype was a small tablet, folding like a book. Lenovo said that the device “brings a vision of the most flexible user interfaces that naturally connect people and devices.”
In Lenovo’s case, folding the display is not the problem, rather, bending it out is the hard part. The reason is due to how the covering of the panel is getting stretched. The covering of the phone seemingly used a stretchable plastic cover. However, the cover distorts for a bit in certain angles.
As for the other foldable device, it can go from the size of a tablet to a phablet. The device does this by bending right in the middle.
LG’s version has the same size with a standard smartphone but when unfolded, it transforms into a tablet.
The patent documents revealed that the device with the touchscreen display on the front and back. The middle or bending side can work as a music controller or notification bar.
The additional display had a camera and flash. It also had a fingerprint scanner and power buttons. In addition, users can position the device in a tent mode like the foldable Zenbooks from Asus. When the user folds the screen, it can display several features. The features will shift its positions when the user opens the device.
Apple is also developing an iPhone with a flexible curved screen. The company filed its patent application in July 2014. On November 2016, Apple received the approval for the patent.
In Apple’s version, the handset will use a similar screen to the Apple Watch with the organic light-emitting diode screen. The designs envision a foldable iPhone with the organic light-emitting diode technology. The patent featured a touchscreen smartphone with a clamshell-like appearance. The screen can bend with both ends of the screens facing. It can also bend backward. There are some additional hinges that can help to fold the phone, it can also bend in thirds as well.
Microsoft also filed for a patent on its foldable mobile device concept. The company’s concept morphs a phone into a tablet. The design had hinges on it. The device uses a flexible joint that allows its display to contort to various screen sizes.
Microsoft’s version seemed like an origami with the device bending on different sizes. Basically, the aim would hint at a new category of computers. Microsoft wanted to create an all-in-one device, instead of forcing consumers to buy more than one device.