Foldable smartphones are slowly taking off and while Samsung is the king of the entire market, it is worth noting that there are many other players trying to compete and grab some market share. Xiaomi, OPPO, Vivo, TCL, and Motorola have all announced foldable smartphones in recent months and years, and while they are impressive, none are as widely available as the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 devices.
You may also be interested in our list of the best foldable smartphones you can buy in 2022.
The foldable smartphone business is competitive; However, Samsung seems to have no competition in the West and Europe. None of the companies mentioned above sell their devices in those regions. As a result, Samsung could get away with some missing features and flaws, but that could change in the next few years as more tech giants enter the foldable world and try to grab a bigger slice of the pie.
In this article, I decided to take a look at foldable smartphones, and see how they can change the smartphone business with their own unique approaches. The post will highlight the benefits and drawbacks. It will also try to predict which company will be the first to promote rolling smartphones.
Before I go any further, I want to share my love and enthusiasm for foldable phones. Many people still find them expensive gimmicks, and while I agree with the first part, they are anything but gimmicks. They’ve come a long way in the past three years, and if you can wrap your head around the unique ways you can take advantage of that all-important screen ownership, it becomes a game-changer. I can’t see myself going back to traditional smartphones, simply because of how useful and convenient the extra space can be at any time.
Of course, these devices are not for everyone, but they definitely have a place in the market and have matured significantly in the past few years.
My journey with foldable smartphones started with the Galaxy Z Fold 3. I chose this device for several reasons. The main reason was that it was widely available, well supported, and I could quickly fix it if I accidentally broke it. The same cannot be said for other devices, as they are often only available in China and other parts of Asia.
Foldable devices are excellent devices for multitasking, gaming, and doing many things at once. However, it is big, bulky and heavy. It takes up about twice as much space as conventional smartphones, and there are also some software quirks and compatibility issues. It is not yet ready to be in every pocket, and it is certainly not necessary for most consumers.
On the other hand, rollable smartphones may be able to reduce their weight, come in traditional smartphone form factors, and have the same advantages as foldable devices. There is not much difference between foldable and foldable smartphones, but there are a lot of changes inside and the way they work, which makes them more useful for many people.
Advantages of foldable smartphones
Rollables offer the same benefits as foldable devices but are much more compact and much closer to traditional smartphones — at least, if we base our idea of foldable smartphones on the concepts we’ve seen in the past couple of years. The current technology found in foldable devices is the best we can achieve today, but the technology is advancing rapidly. The technology we use today could look outdated in two to three years. Rotatable displays have a bright future, and I can see them becoming the next big category in the consumer market; And they can have their own place along with the foldable devices.
Another good thing about rotatable display boards is that they’re meant to be bent, and they’re supposed to be flexible and rolled out. Most of the prototypes we’ve seen lack a crease, which is currently notable and a concern for many users and early adopters — although this has been worked out by some companies like HUAWEI, HONOR, OPPO, and other tech giants.
These devices are also likely to have better water and dust resistance protection as manufacturers may be able to provide better sealing inside and out. The missing hinge could make devices lighter, slimmer and more durable. We haven’t seen evidence of this happening yet, but I expect that fewer moving parts will result in a device that will be slimmer and more resistant to dust, dirt, and liquids.
Disadvantages of foldable smartphones and display technology
Before we go any further, let’s state the truth here. If a smartphone has a movable component, it is more likely to fail and break than a part that remains fixed in place for its entire life. For this reason, foldable smartphones will have to undergo extensive testing to ensure that they can survive several years of abuse, drops, and more, similar to the current generation of foldable smartphones.
The UTG (Ultra-Thin Glass) panel still isn’t as slick as we’d like it to be, and the screen on foldable devices can easily be scratched by long nails, coins in your pockets, and other everyday objects. Rotatable devices will likely feature newer display technologies. However, we don’t think it will be anywhere near real glass. These boards will likely continue to scratch at Level 2, with deeper grooves at Level 3.
These phones will require more protection than foldable phones, since the primary – and only – screen will be made of the same material as the part it’s thrown at – unless we can create a mix of two different materials and fuse them together. The time will be good.
While these devices may feature a traditional or slightly thicker form factor like regular smartphones, I wouldn’t expect them to have large batteries, due to the extra driver and other technology. I also don’t think most of these phones will support wireless charging for a generation or two, given size limitations and a lack of space inside the chassis.
It would also be difficult to find cases for these devices, unless someone could devise a rubbery or flexible structure that could stretch and contract, when necessary and be operated by the user.
To summarize, foldable smartphones have a bright future and can solve many problems with existing foldable smartphones; However, there are a lot of unanswered things that researchers and phone makers need to address.
Rotatable smartphones can greatly reduce the thickness and bulky form factor of devices like the Galaxy Z Fold 4, and they can be as compact as traditional smartphones. All while offering the same benefits, like a tablet-sized screen, same main camera, big batteries, excellent heat dissipation, and more.
I’m excited about the future of foldable and foldable technologies, and I can’t wait to see them progress further before our eyes.
Which company will deliver a flagship that’s rollable and ready to take on the world?
It is difficult to predict the future, especially since most companies have shown prototypes in the past few years. TCL showed the world a foldable and rollable device. LG allowed its employees to purchase its prototype foldable devices after it exited the mobile phone business. OPPO has been rumored to be working on the technology, and even Samsung has shown off rollable panels in the past.
On a side note, LG and Samsung both made TVs with rollable panels that can stow away when they’re not needed and used. Televisions are not widely available and, as you can imagine, cost a fortune, but they do exist.
Now, even though the technology is already in a ready-to-consumer product, that doesn’t mean we’ll see them anytime soon, since it requires many years of testing and research to make sure it can withstand and meet high standards.
When it comes to predicting the future, we can’t be 100% sure about which company will announce a new consumer-ready product first. However, if we had to guess, it could be OPPO, Vivo, or another brand from the BBK group. BBK’s subsidiaries have earned many ‘first’ titles in the past few years, and we expect them to be in the lead, setting an example for the rest of the industry, followed by Samsung and the rest of the players.
As for the company that’s going to popularize and take foldable smartphones to the next level… that’s up to you. Samsung seems to be a serious competitor and leader in this field. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the company have a plan for a rollable or sliding device in the next few years.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
The latest Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 comes with the most powerful Qualcomm SoC, better detailed mechanism, and a 1.9 inch Super AMOLED display. Pre-order now and get a Samsung Ring Case or belt case and up to $900 off with a qualified exchange
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
The latest Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 comes with the most powerful Qualcomm SoC, wider screen, better hinge mechanism, and several significant upgrades over its predecessor. Pre-order now and get the Permanent Cover with S Pen, up to $1,000 off with a qualified exchange, and up to $100 in Samsung Credit.