Foldable phones have become a huge talking point in the tech world, following two recently unveiled prototypes. This new trend doesn't refer to retro-style flip phones, but handsets that you can actually, physically fold in half.
The two manufacturers - tech giants Samsung and a lesser-known Californian company called Royole Corporation - each showcased a foldable phone in 2018. Both ideas focus on the handset display, which can be viewed as tablet-size, or folded to mobile dimensions when required.
The World's First 'Foldable' Smartphone
Royole Corporation was the world's first company to unveil a foldable smartphone. Royole was founded in 2012 and has since become known for manufacturing flexible displays and sensors, as well as smart devices.
The exclusive FlexPai handset was revealed at an event in Beijing, with pre-orders being made available on 31st October 2018. It can be used folded or unfolded, so you'll have the choice between a tablet or a regular, portable smartphone.
The device itself has a 7.8-inch screen with a 4:3 aspect ratio and 1920 x 1440 resolution. It's been created with Royole's 2nd generation, flexible display technology and - due to its bendy nature - it can't break. The company say the device can be folded at least 200,000 times without showing any signs of wear, and it's fully functional however you choose to use it. There's also a speedy Snapdragon 8-series chip and a custom Android-based operating system known as Water OS.
While this is foldable technology in its early stages, and the device is a little bulky when folded, there's no denying the FlexPai is incredibly impressive.
Samsung's Infinity Flex Display
Next in line to announce a foldable phone for the public was Samsung, who declared it was working on something that was close to completion at the Samsung Developer Conference on November 7th 2018.
This new foldable phone will become part of a larger collection of Samsung foldable phones known as the Galaxy F series. All Galaxy F handsets will feature Samsung's new Infinity Flex Display, which we can expect to be just as high-quality as Samsung's well-loved Infinity Displays.
The first Samsung foldable phone is expected to have an outer, regular phone screen and an inner, foldable screen. When fully open, it will also be the size of a tablet, and when closed will resemble a regular smartphone - slightly different to the design by Royole Corporation which bends around the edges. The finer details are still unknown, but whatever Samsung comes up with we expect it to be just as good, if not better, than the 2018 flagship duo the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Samsung Galaxy S9+.
Android On Board
Having a foldable phone is great, but you're going to need an operating system that can adapt to this new form of display technology. Luckily, Android is already on board, with the 2019 Android operating system known as Android Q fully supporting foldable tech.
At the Android Dev Summit, an entire section of Google's keynote was dedicated to Foldables. The OS will help devices seamlessly switch between one screen to two, or folded to unfolded.
Here's a snippet from the keynote on how Android Q and Foldables will work:
"There are two variants broadly speaking: two-screen devices and one-screen devices. When folded, foldables look like phones, fitting in your pocket or purse. When unfolded, their defining feature is what we call screen continuity. For example, start a video with the folded smaller screen - and later you can sit down and unfold the device to get a larger tablet-sized screen for a beautiful, immersive experience. As you unfold, the app seamlessly transfers to the bigger screen without missing a beat. We're optimizing Android for this new form factor."
And it's not just Royole and Samsung who are interested in foldable phone tech either. Android is preparing to support a whole bunch of manufacturers interested in expanding their smartphone offering. Huawei has already promised that its customers would have a foldable smartphone within a year in September 2018, and LG has been rumoured to be working on something very similar.
It seems foldable phones are definitely going to become a thing in the future, but the tech isn't ready just yet. In the meantime, if you're in the market for an amazing new smartphone you'll find plenty at Mobiles.co.uk. Discover our best deals online today.