Lost in the Fold: The Craze Over Folding Phones is Just Starting

I’m a little behind the wave, but two major phone companies have revealed folding phones for this year.

No, not flip phones – though you can still buy a flip phone if you choose to- folding phones.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold

The first major folding phone announced to hit the market came by way of Samsung and the Galaxy Fold. The Fold had to be one of the worst-kept secrets in the phone business. It was so bad that Samsung actually announced it last fall, but promised that the would announce a date later.

Well, last week, Samsung unveiled their new Galaxy Line up and the Galaxy fold was definitely the highlight. You can check out a summary of the event below.

Samsung delivered on its promise from November and it showed off the working Galaxy fold and even promised that it would be coming in April.

The Fold is an interesting concept. When folded, the Fold has a 4.6-inch screen and acts as a normal phone.

Before I dive into what happens when you unfold the device, I think I need to take a second here to say how bad this looks. I understand that the technology is new and all, but the choices here just boggle my mind. The screen when folded looks so small, in fact, the bezels that surround the screen seem larger than the screen itself.

I’m not impressed with this part. I think the next phone doesn’t this part much better, but more on that in a bit.

The Galaxy Fold - folding phone

The amazing thing about this part of the phone though is that once you unfold the 7.3-inch screen the phone uses what it calls “app continuity” to bring the app to the giant unfolded screen.

Okay. That’s pretty cool.

The gadget geek inside me is jumping with joy at how cool that is.

Into the Fold

Now, keep in mind I haven’t had any hands-on time with any of these devices yet. I really had to calm myself down though when it was announced from jumping at the chance to order it.

Things got easier once I saw that the low end model cost $1980.

Still, I wonder how a device like this would really work. The front screen when folded doesn’t fill me with awe, and I’m not really sure how much I would use the phone unfolded.

Still, I would like to test out the device, so if anyone wants to chip in…

Before I get to my impressions about the Galaxy Fold though, I want to talk about another folding phone –

The Huawei Mate X

Just days after Samsung announced the Galaxy Fold, Huawei announced their own folding phone – the Mate 10. You can read about Vlad Savov – a writer from The Verge – hands on time with the Mate 10 here.

The Huawei Mate X folding phones

The Mate X actually folds the opposite way than the Galaxy Fold, and I think this is the right way to really make a folding phone. The way that the Mate 10 folds, actually makes the device more usable I think. Instead of another screen added on the front fold, the device is using half of the large screen. This allows the phone to have three screens.

When the screen is folded shut, the main screen is 6.6-inches – much more than the closed screen on the Galaxy. If you flip the phone over, you’ll also have another screen with cameras at 6.4-inches. Instead of having a front facing camera and back, this phone only has one set of cameras. You can flip the phone over to use whichever side you want. If you’re taking a selfie, you’ll have the entire screen to view.

Conversely, if you’re taking a picture of someone else, they can see what you are capturing to make sure they approve of the shot.

When you open up the Mate, you’ll be treated to an 8 tablet-style device. The end with the cameras is as thick as the two screens folded, but when unfolded, the rest of the device is much thinner than the Galaxy. Similar to the Galaxy, when you are using an app on the folded screen, when you unfold it you will be greeted with the tablet version of the device.

Still, the price here is hefty. It’s retailing for $2600 when it launches later this year.

Who Is the folded phone for

Again, all these devices are really exciting, but when I stop and actually think about it, I’m not sure I like these devices.

When I’m on the go, I like turning to my phone. It has a screen that is easy to use and it is already fairly large. There have been some times when I wished that I had my iPad with me instead of the phone but there’s never really been a time where I couldn’t do what I needed to on my smaller screen.

So would it be nice to be able to expand my phone into a tablet? Yes, but I don’t think that I would like the trade-offs. I don’t think that I would actually unfold the phone into a tablet that often.

If I had to choose between these two devices, I would choose the Huawei Mate style of folding phone.

Would I actually buy one? Not yet.

I don’t think that either of the devices has really proved to me that I need them. It just seems like its something new to try to sell phones, similar to how 3D TVs came and went.

I worry about the stability and longevity of the henge on these devices as well.

I also don’t doubt that Apple is working on a folding phones, but I don’t think that they will release one anytime soon. But I have a feeling that if any company can spin a narrative on why a folding phone works, I would imagine it will be Apple.

Still, I think the tech is pretty exciting. There’s no doubt that folding phones are the current wave.

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