During CES this year, we were introduced to what might end up being the first foldable smartphone on the market. Yes, it had some flaws, but it was far more advanced than many other smartphone companies were able to make. Until now. Chinese company Xiaomi has become the latest smartphone maker to bring us a folding smartphone. The problem? It’s not ready for the market yet. Which is understandable, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a worth technological advancement. What’s interesting about this phone, is that it doesn’t have a single center parting, but rather two folds that divide it into three panels. Think – how you would fold a letter, before putting it into an envelope.
This device was displayed on Bin Weibo’s Twitter account, where he asks his followers for feedback on this prototype, as it isn’t quite ready for market. And I think that’s kind of the case for a lot of these foldable devices. I mean, they look really cool, and I think that this is something society has been wanting to see for a really long time. It feels a bit like an “ultimate goal” when it comes to smart devices, like a phone. But is this really where we are going with technology?
I would urge you to watch this video and then decide if its something that you would actually want to use. To me, this concept is about having a tablet, and then condensing it into a smartphone. I mean, it’s larger, like a tablet, and what we see in the video is the device being folded down to a smaller size. Once folded down to that smaller size, it looks more like a smartphone, rather than a tablet. So perhaps companies making foldable smartphones should actually market them as tablets being converted into a smartphone?
In this case, the full size (tablet form) definitely resembles the bezel-less “infinity display” design that we see with the 2018 Samsung Galaxy S8.
“This symmetrical double-folded form perfectly combines the experience of the tablet and mobile phone, which is both practical and beautiful. Building the prototype entailed conquering a series of technical problems such as flexible folding screen technology, four-wheel drive folding shaft technology, flexible cover technology, and MIUI adaptation. We made the first folding screen mobile phone, which should be the world’s first double folding mobile phone.”Bin Weibo, Twitter
From a technology perspective, I think that this is incredibly cool and amazing. But I keep going back to the usability of it all. Think about when the first larger size smartphones started to come out. Everyone wanted them because they were really cool looking. But then people started to buy them and quickly realized that the functionality wasn’t there. How could you carry around such a large device in your pocket or purse? And I think those are the kinds of questions that will come out if the foldable phone comes to market.
Samsung is releasing their new Galaxy phones next month, and they too are looking at some kind of folding smartphone. I am looking forward to seeing these in the coming months and years, but I’m not sure that we’re “there” yet when it comes to these devices being usable.