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Lenovo teases us with the future (again) with its foldable Folio phone/tablet hybrid

Lenovo's Folio foldable phone/tablet hybrid might not be released soon, but it gives us a small glimpse at what is possible.

Published onJuly 26, 2017

2016’s Lenovo Tech World saw the introduction of the “modular” Moto Z and Moto Z Force, as well as the Tango-ready Phab 2 Pro, but one of the coolest announcements belonged to Lenovo’s foldable tablet/smartphone hybrid. Fast forward to this year’s Lenovo Tech World, and though the concept is still nowhere near ready for primetime, at least Lenovo kept working at it.

When we talked to Lenovo about the foldable hybrid, the company told us that the issue was not with getting the display to fold, but how it bends out. Lenovo gets around this by using a stretchy plastic-looking cover that sits above the actual panel, but it is not exactly invisible – the cover distorts a bit at certain angles, with the distortion making it possible to see the plastic cover.

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In this regard, not much has changed with this year’s prototype, though Lenovo did give it a name: Folio. As with last year’s prototype, the Folio features bending points in the middle, which allow the device to change from a 5.5-inch smartphone to a 7.8-inch tablet. Based on a recent hands-on video published on YouTube, Lenovo customized Android 7.0 Nougat to allow the UI to reconfigure itself to use up as much screen space as possible.

The more obvious example is the UI becomes wider once you turn the Folio into a tablet. However, there are smaller reconfigurations, such as the rear half of the display being used to give a live preview to those whose picture is being taken, while the UI itself seems to run a bit smoother compared to when we last saw it.

The Folio’s real appeal, however, is to feature enough screen real estate for movie-watching, reading, and games while fitting in your pocket.

That future will likely not feature Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 processor, which powers the current Folio prototype and is over three years old, but the device is far from market-ready. Either way, it’s great to see a large company like Lenovo continue to work on such a concept and I’m excited for if and when it makes the Folio available for purchase.