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, ww now know that the first true foldable phones with a flexable display will be available to the general public in 2019, but be prepared to spend a lot of money for some of them.
Let’s take a look at the upcoming foldable phone devices with flexible displays we’ve heard about so far.
Samsung Galaxy Fold
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. In February, at its Unpacked press event, Samsung revealed more info about its foldable phone, along with its official name, the Samsung Galaxy Fold.
The phone, when closed, can be used as a smartphone with a 4.6-inch HD+ Super AMOLED external screen. When it unfolds to its full size, it will act as a tablet thanks to the 7.3-inch QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED Infinity Flex display.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold will also have an unnamed 64-bit 7nm processor, 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage inside, along with two batteries totaling 4,380mAh. It will also have six cameras: three on the back, one on the front, and two on the inside.
The standard 4G version of the Galaxy Fold was supposed to go on sale April 26 in the U.S. for $1,980 and in Europe on May 3 for 2000 euros. However, the company postponed the release of the phone after some media outlets experienced display failures on their review units. The Galaxy Fold currently does not have a revised release date.
There will also be a 5G version of this foldable phone, but it also doesn’t have a release date, and its price should be much higher. AT&T and T-Mobile have confirmed they will sell some version of the Galaxy Fold, but it’s unclear if they will offer the 5G version when it goes on sale.
Huawei Mate X
At Mobile World Congress 2019, Huawei officially unveiled what it had been hinting about for months; it’s first foldable phone. The Huawei Mate X takes a different approach than the Galaxy Fold in terms of its design. In its smaller smartphone mode, it works as a dual-display device, with the main display sized as a 6.6-inch panel a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. When you flip the phone to its rear display, it has a 6.38-inch panel with a 25:9 aspect ratio. Also, when in phone mode, there’s a digital “bezel” that appears along the folded edge of the device so it looks more like a normal smartphone.
However, when the two sides of the display are folded out, it turned into a large 8-inch tablet with a 8:7.1 aspect ratio and a 2,480 x 2,200 resolution. Inside, the Huawei Mate X will have the company’s in-house Kirin 980 processor and Balong 5000 modem, which is able to connect to the upcoming 5G networks. It also has 8GB of RAM and 512GB of internal storage, a Leica triple camera and a 4,500mAh battery (actually two batteries that combined will be 4,500mAh in size)
The Huawei Mate X was supposed to cost 2,299 euros or about $2,600. It was supposed to go on sale in Europe and China sometime later this summer. However, Huawei recently announced it was delaying the launch of the Mate X until sometime in September. Huawei claims that they wanted to improve the phone’s flexible display to avoid the issues discovered by Samsung on the Galaxy Fold.
It’s possible that the Huawei Mate X delay is also due to the U.S. government’s decision to ban Huawei’s use of U.S.-made hardware and software devices in its future smartphones. Huawei is currently scheduled to lose its license for installing Google’s Android OS in its phones because of the government band. Huawei does have its own mobile operating system that it is in the works. It could be ready to be installed in upcoming phones this year in China, with a global release in 2020.
It turns out the first true foldable phone showed up 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 is selling 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.
Energizer Mobile Power Max P8100S foldable phone
Avenir Telecom, a mobile phone maker who has released handsets that use the Energizer battery brand name, recently revealed that it will show off a number of new phones at the Mobile World Congress trade show in late February, including a foldable smartphone. It was true to its word, as it did indeed show off a foldable phone, the Power Max P8100S, at MWC 2019. Like the Samsung Galaxy Fold, the Energizer Power Max P8100S will have just one display, a 6-inch screen with Full HD+ resolution on the outside in smartphone mode. When folded out like a book, it will turn into an 8.1-inch display tablet with Full HD+ resolution. It also has one very ugly hinge in the middle.
Other specs include the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of expandable storage, dual rear 48MP and 12MP cameras, a 24MP front-facing camera, and a huge 10,000mAh battery. The phone is also supposed to connect to 5G networks. The Energizer Power Max P8100S will cost 850 euros (~$966) when it is released sometime later in 2019.
TCL foldable phone
A recent report on CNET detailed TCL’s plans for entering the foldable phone race. The China-based company has several concepts for foldable phones and tablets, including one foldable smartphone that can be wrapped around a wrist to become a really big smartwatch. It’s unknown which of these concepts will be the first to be released, but TCL says its debut foldable phone will launch sometime in 2020.
At MWC 2019, the company showed off some of these foldable phone concepts. There’s no guarantee that any of these designs will be turned into real consumer products, but we do know TCL has developed its own DragonHinge technology for these phones. The company stated it will have a special mechanical housing designed to fold and bend smartphones and tablets in a variety of ways. TCL added that it will create foldable phones with custom flexible AMOLED displays that will be provided by TCL’s sister company, CSOT.
Motorola RAZR foldable phone
Lenovo, via its Motorola division, is rumored by the Wall Street Journal to be developing a foldable phone that would be sold exclusively by Verizon Wireless. The story claims that the phone would use the Motorola RAZR branding, which was also used as the name for its highly popular flip phones that were huge hits over a decade ago. There’s no word on the hardware details of this rumored Motorola RAZR foldable phone, but the story claimed that Verizon could start selling it as early as February, perhaps in an attempt to beat Samsung’s phone to market. However, as of this writing, February has almost come and gone with no such RAZR foldable phone announcement from Motorola.
The WSJ report says the phone could have a price as high as $1,500, and that Lenovo has a target of making 200,000 units of the Motorola RAZR foldable phone. Hopefully, this story is more than just vaporware. We will be keeping an eye out on those phone in the weeks and months ahead.
Xiaomi foldable phone
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 first report about a possible foldable smartphone from Xiaomi started via noted gadget leaker Evan Blass (@evleaks). He posted a video on his Twitter feed in January 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.
However, in late January, Xiaomi spokesperson Donovan Sung posted a new video to Twitter, showing co-founder Bin Lin playing with a prototype foldable phone that seems to be the same device that Blass posted about earlier that month.
Check out this special video from #Xiaomi President and Co-founder Bin Lin, showing off a very special phone prototype… ?
— Donovan Sung (@donovansung) January 23, 2019
Both videos are interesting in that they first show 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. In his Twitter post, Sung asked for suggestions for a name for this phone. Hopefully, we will see and learn more about this alleged flexible phone soon.
Oppo foldable phone
Oppo, another China-based smartphone company, has confirmed it will be joining the foldable phone race. Brian Shen, VP of Oppo, showed off what looks like a prototype of the company’s foldable phone on his Weibo account. Like the Huawei Mate X, it looks like Oppo’s foldable phone will be a dual-display device in smartphone mode. That includes a camera set up on the left side of the phone’s rear screen. So far, that’s all we really know at this point about this phone, but hopefully, we will learn more in the months to come.
LG foldable phone
LG had 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 claimed LG planned to show off a foldable phone in early January 2019 in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show. However, the trade show has come and gone without such a phone shown by LG. In a recent press conference, the Korea Times quoted LG Electronics mobile and TV head Brian Kwon, who stated the company has “decided not to produce” a foldable smartphone for now. He did add that LG is “fully ready to respond depending on consumers’ reactions” to foldable smartphones.
Which of these foldable phones with flexible displays are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comments!