OPINION: Recent rumors about upcoming foldable phones give us cause for optimism that the longstanding problem can finally be solved.
We are still in the early days of folding screen smartphones, the first one was introduced in 2019, and they remain new to us at the moment.
Few of us have had the opportunity to get up close and personal with such a device, as they are not exactly bestsellers, and therefore they still give the impression that they are at the forefront of telephone equipment. Perhaps for this reason, we are more forgiving of potential pitfalls.
There were a few obvious shortcomings in such phones in the very early days, especially with regards to the reliability of the internal screen and hinge, and under-optimized software for the bold new form factor, but these problems seem to have been largely eliminated. improved in recent years. However, one problem remains, at least for clamshell phones, and that’s the miserly size of external screens.
We noted this issue in our Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Huawei P50 Pocket reviews; in my experience with the latter, the more I used the phone, the more annoying it became. To begin with, I was delighted with the novelty and charm that this style undoubtedly gives to its counterparts, but above all, this design really made me aware of how often I look at the screen of my phone.
It’s usually not hard to pull your phone out of your pocket and quickly scroll and swipe across the screen, but the extra step of having to open it with your thumb every time made it a little more routine than I’d like (although that might be was a good method of aversion therapy to treat my screen addiction).
While we noted some preliminary improvement in this score over the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, it’s still far from perfect as Max Parker writes that “the best thing you can do is skip songs or check the timer. You will still open your phone frequently.”
However, this week there were two good news in this regard, one from Oppo and one from Samsung. While these are still rumors, they seem to indicate that manufacturers are working on a solution to this potential pain point.
In the first story, the blurry video gave us our first look at the Oppo Find N2. its flip phone that could prove to be a direct competitor to the Galaxy Z Flip 4, but there is one key detail that stands out above the others in this admittedly obscure proof; the outside of the phone has a much larger, vertically oriented display. This potentially means you’ll be able to do many more interactions than before, making it a much more useful device even when closed.
The second story concerned the next Samsung Galaxy Z Flip phone. According to this rumor from screen expert Ross Young, the next entry in the series will have a screen no smaller than 3 inches. Again, this is a massive improvement over the previous version, making it more likely that you’ll be able to do more than just check the time and see a few notifications when the phone is unfolded.
Now, obviously, we’ll have to try out these phones to see if the rumored design changes really are the game-changers we’re hoping for, but the initial signs seem to be positive. This may be one of the final ingredients that allows foldable clamshell devices to be more than just an eye-catching way to stand out from the crowd, and instead give them an efficiency advantage over standard smartphones.
Let’s hope next year will usher in a fresh start for foldable phones.