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Lenovo foldable smartphone and tablet concept hands on

We still don't have consumer ready foldable smartphones or tablets, but these Lenovo concepts makes it seem like we're one step closer to that reality.

Published onJune 10, 2016

Foldable smartphones and tablets, it looks like they’re coming soon at some point. We’re here at Lenovo Tech World in San Francisco and a lot of cool stuff were announced here, like the Tango-ready PHAB 2 Pro and the shockingly modular Moto Z and Z Force, but the ones we really thought were cool are concepts. Yes, concepts, as in they’re not something we’ll be buying anytime soon – wherein they’ll more than likely incur premium costs when they arrive, due to the new tech they’re employing.

Either way, it really opens the idea of what we’ll potentially see down the road. Now, during a Q & A session with some of the engineers, we got a sneak peek at two foldable devices. The first one being a foldable smartphone, the one shown off during the keynote by YouTuber Meghan McCarthy. When it’s flat, it looks very much like an elongated phone from the front, something that oddly looks out of place if it were placed alongside today’s smartphones.

Lenovo foldable smartphone and tablet concept first look 14

However, you know something’s up when you look at it from the back. Obviously, there’s more to than just the display being folded, since the chassis itself is bending to match the display. Lenovo’s concept seems practical because as it’s being bent, the interface slowly begins to shift – so that its operation while on your wrist is more appropriate. This isn’t a form factor we’re familiar with, so it’ll be interesting to see how Lenovo will tackle the way various operations we’re familiar with already on something curved.

Lenovo foldable smartphone and tablet concept first look 15

Lenovo says that folding a display in isn’t a problem, but rather, it’s when you’re bending it out, which is the case here with the smartphone. That’s because of how the glass or whatever is covering the panel itself is being stretched, but from what we can see, it’s using this stretchy plastic looking cover – much like you might see those plastic covers over furniture. You can visibly see that layer, just because it distorts a bit under certain angles.

As for the foldable tablet, it’s pretty neat because it can go from a sizable tablet, to a phablet sized thing by bending it right in the middle. Whereas the phone bends in multiple places throughout the chassis, the tablet simply has its bending points around the middle area. And the same plasticy layer covers the display.

Lenovo foldable smartphone and tablet concept first look 10

These are some pretty cool concepts, especially when they’re optimized to make them practical when they’re bent – like how the interfaces shift and all. Being concepts, you know that we’re thinking a lot about price, even though we won’t be seeing them anytime soon. We can only imagine them to be pricey, but hey, it’s pretty cool that foldable smartphones and tablets are coming at some point.

Who knows how these concept devices will evolve over time, or whether they’ll come to fruition at some timely manner. Regardless, Lenovo’s concepts provides us with a closer look at what are some of the challenges behind making a foldable smartphone. It’s a solid effort, probably requiring additional refinements, before they can certified for consumer sale. Even then, however, you can certainly expect some pricey figures attached to them.

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