The Commendable Bendable Phone!
Decades ago, before the advent of smartphones, I remember hearing about some distant-future technology called “digital paper” that was actually in development – this idea has stuck with me through the years. Imagine, they said, a city map that you could zoom in and out on, see live traffic updates and bus schedules, and even be updated for construction zones and accidents – all this on something you could fold up and stick in your pocket. This seems quaint by today’s standards as the devices we now carry in our pockets can do all that and more.
But what was that about folding it up? Well, the technology Is something that has recently come to mass market from several electronics manufacturers, though, they’re not at all paper-like. Rather, it’s essentially a new form-factor for your smartphone or tablet – kind of like a book or a large flip phone. Regardless of which way it hinges, the idea is to open the phone 90-degrees to form a flat surface twice the size of its compacted form. And, yes, the display itself is flexible – it’s not like a Nintendo DS which has two screens separated by a hinge.
Samsung and Oppo seem to have the most highly-regarded folding phones, Samsung with its Galaxy Z series and Oppo with the awkwardly-named Find N. The latter opens horizontally like a book but Samsung, with its love of spamming the market with a wide variety of phone models, has the similar Z Fold 3 (which I can say, having worked in the print industry, is no Z-fold!) but also the Z Flip 4 which closely resembles the flip phone of old. Personally, I like the idea of the vertical Flip as the horizontal Fold kind of turns into a big square tablet. The Flip, while open, is just the size of a modern-day phone but, folded, takes up much less of a footprint in your pocket.
As appealing as this may sound, the technology is still young and, therefore, comes at a price. Moreover, the screens aren’t as durable and have an expected expiry date after 200,000 folds or so. That sounds like a lot but divide that by the number of unlocks you perform daily!