Phones with true flexible and foldable displays are on the way! After a brief flirtation with phones like ZTE Axon M, which joins two screens with a hinge in a clamshell design, we’re already seeing companies tease their products.
One smaller company has even started taking orders, saying it will begin shipping in late December 2018. In 2019, we expect some of the biggest smartphone makers to launch their own foldable phones. It could be a major change in the industry.
Let’s take a look at the upcoming foldable phone devices with flexible displays we’ve heard about so far.
It turns out the first true foldable phone will probably come from a company few have heard of, even though it’s been developing flexible display technology for many years. The China-based Royole surprised the industry in late October by announcing it would release the Royole FlexPai.
In its unfolded mode, it serves as a 7.8-inch tablet with a 1440p AMOLED display. Through the use of Royole’s flexible film technology, the sides of the FlexPai can fold 180 degrees, making each display face out. One of them becomes the “primary” display in this mode and the other serves as the secondary screen. Each side apparently has a display of about four inches.
In addition, the spine of the flexible display also works as a third small display for notifications. The display itself can fold over 200,000 times before it stops working, so it should last several years. Inside, the FlexPai will have the“Qualcomm next-gen Snapdragon 8 series SoC,” rumored to be the Snapdragon 855/8150.
We had the opportunity to go hands-on with a prototype of the FlexPai. Although the device experienced some understandable performance issues due to its use of a hitherto unprecedented display mode, Royole claims it will fix the issues we encountered before the FlexPai ships.
Officially, the company will sell the phone via flash sales in China. Pricing starts at 8,999 yuan (~$1291) for the 6GB RAM and 128GB storage model, 9,998 yuan (~$1434) for the 8GB RAM and 256GB storage version, and 12,999 yuan (~$1864) for the 8GB RAM and 512GB storage variant.
As we mentioned earlier, the company is also selling a version of the FlexPai worldwide on its main site as a “developer edition.” It’s priced at $1,318 for the 6GB RAM and 128GB storage version, and at $1,460 for the 8GB RAM and 256GB storage edition.
Samsung foldable phone
Samsung has teased us for years about its flexible phone plans. In early November, at its annual developer conference, the company showed off a teaser of its first consumer foldable display phone. Samsung’s SVP of Mobile Product Marketing Justin Denison pulled out a “disguised” version of the foldable phone on stage. He showed a typical looking smartphone, inside a blocky case, then folded it out like a book to show a larger 7.3-inch tablet-sized display. The phone was not shown with bright lights on the stage to keep it rather mysterious, but Denison stated there was indeed a real, and “stunning” phone design inside the rather bulky shell.
He then talked about the display Samsung had created for this foldable phone, which the company is calling Infinity Flex. It uses what he called an “advanced composite polymer” as tough as the normal glass material for the display’s cover screen, yet flexible enough for a foldable phone. It also has a flexible adhesive designed to be folded and unfolded hundreds of thousands of times and yet keep all of the display’s layers together.
Samsung is also developing new UI for its foldable phone and display. It showed off the new Multi-Active Window, which allows three apps to run at once when the phone is in its larger tablet mode. Samsung is also working with Google to make Android work natively with future foldable devices.
Unfortunately, Samsung did not reveal anything else about its upcoming foldable phone during its developer keynote event, saying only that it expects to begin mass production of its flexible display “in the coming months.” We will update this post when Samsung offers more concrete info on its foldable phone.
LG foldable phone
LG confirmed in October 2018 it plans to launch a foldable phone. Its LG Display division has been working on flexible screens for some time now. A more recent report from internet gadget reporter Evan Blass claims LG plans to show off a foldable phone in early January 2019 in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show. We’ll update this entry when we know more.
Huawei foldable phone
Huawei CEO Richard Yu already confirmed the China-based phone maker is working on a foldable phone. He added the phone will also support the upcoming 5G cellular phone networks, which should become available on a wide basis in 2019. As with the LG entry, we’ll add more here when we know more about Huawei’s device.
Oppo foldable phone
Oppo, another China-based smartphone company, has hinted it will be joining the foldable phone race. Oppo’s product manager Chuck Wang was quoted by Tweakers (via Let’sGoDigital), hinting that the company would be making some announcements about its foldable phone plans at MWC 2019 which takes place in Barcelona, Spain in late February. At this time, that’s all we know about this device; no other details, including a release date or price, have been revealed yet.
Xiaomi foldable phone (rumored)
Can’t speak to the authenticity of this video or device, but it’s allegedly made by Xiaomi, I’m told. Hot new phone, or gadget porn deepfake? pic.twitter.com/qwFogWiE2F
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) January 3, 2019
The latest report about a possible foldable smartphone comes from noted gadget leaker Evan Blass (@evleaks). He posted a video on his Twitter feed that showed some kind of phone with a flexible display. He stated the video is allegedly of a Xiaomi device, but could not confirm that independently. The video does show that the phone uses Xiaomi’s MIUI skin, however.
The video is interesting in that it first shows a tablet form factor, but then the left and right sides of the device are folded behind the handset, with the middle part of the product now apparently working more like a smaller smartphone. If this really is a Xiaomi product, it’s likely a prototype and not a fully functional commercial device. Hopefully, we will see and learn more about this alledged flexible phone soon.
Which of these foldable phones with flexible displays are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comments!