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Companies need to start flexing, fast.
Today is February 10, 2020. It’s just one day until Samsung is expected to unveil its second-generation foldable, the Galaxy Z Flip. The Z Flip will come almost a whole year after the original Galaxy Fold was meant to launch, so it’s acceptable to call this a second-generation product, or at least the second generation of Samsung’s foldable technology.
This time last year, it seemed like the market was about to flood with foldable devices. So much in fact, that we made a roundup of the best foldable phones at MWC 2019. TCL had prototypes. OPPO had prototypes. I was positive the mobile landscape was about to change forever. But then Galaxy Folds started breaking, and HUAWEI, well – HUAWEI happened.
When the two biggest phone manufacturers in the world were on hold, everyone else went quiet. Normally, you’d expect companies to rush to the opportunity to release a foldable device before HUAWEI or Samsung. But more likely, those same companies counted their blessings and realized they didn’t have to release phones before the technology was ready.
And now we’re here, just one day before that second-generation Samsung foldable is expected to launch. The pressure is back on. And what are your options if you want a non-Samsung foldable smartphone?
Motorola. Kind of.
The Moto Razr launched just three days ago, but it’s already experiencing many of the first generation issues the Galaxy Fold did before Samsung fixed it. Retail store units are breaking. The phones are creaking like crazy after a few days of use. Very few reviews are out for this thing so it’s hard to evaluate it in the real world, but by and large, this whole situation feels familiar.
Meanwhile, Samsung is about to drop its first foldable with ultra-thin glass, a technology much more akin to traditional smartphone displays than the plastic OLEDs we’ve gotten used to on foldables. Ultra-thin glass is stronger. It doesn’t scratch as easily. And perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t look cheap.
Other manufacturers need to get in the game, and soon. Samsung is now an entire generation ahead of everyone else. Whether ultra-thin glass will have its own problems is yet to be seen, but it’s obvious that Samsung is starting to learn how to make a great foldable smartphone. And if others don’t start trying soon, Samsung will be in the third generation before anyone has put out a single device.
2019 didn’t end up being the year of the foldable, but I sure hope 2020 is. For everyone else’s sake.