Remember the days when text messages and Snake on your Nokia 3310 were two of the most exciting things a phone could manage? We do too. Fast forward 15 years and we have in-display fingerprint scanners, punch-hole front cameras, bezel free displays and a whole new take on slider and flip phones.
Flip phones were once slim, compact and hinged devices. Now, flip phones have morphed into foldable phones and they are set to be unhinged, in both senses of the word.
With bendable screens, Android support, plenty of potential and huge price tags, here are the devices leading the crazy foldable smartphone trend, from the already announced to the upcoming and rumoured.
- Qualcomm SD855, 6/8GB RAM
- 7.8-inch flexible screen, 308ppi
- 16MP/20MP cameras
- 134 x 190.3 x 7.6mm (unfolded), 320g
Royole beat everyone to the punch, announcing the first commercially-available smartphone with a flexible display. It's currently only available in China as a developer model but the FlexPai turns from a 7.8-inch tablet to a smartphone by folding in half.
It's got all the power of a typical flagship smartphone but it's a bulky bit of kit when folded and it doesn't fold flat, leaving a nice big air gap next to the non-existent hinge. It also starts at £1209/$1300. There's plenty of future potential though, especially given the screen technology is just millimetres thick.
- Qualcomm SD855 expected
- 5-inch to 8-inch Infinity Flex display
- 512GB storage claimed
- 6200mAh battery suggested
Samsung's foldable smartphone has been rumoured for years but all details point to a 2019 launch. The company previewed a device with an Infinity Flex flexible display in November 2018, showing off what the display technology was capable of and a video ad showing future tech also features a foldable phone.
The Galaxy F foldable smartphone is claimed to have a 5-inch screen that folds out to an 8-inch tablet, though based on the previewed device, it looks like the folded device will be flat, unlike Royole's FlexPai. Flagship specifications are expected, but so is a huge price tag, with talk of $2000 as a starting price.
- 6.2-inch, OLED, 4K
- Dual rear camera (19MP + 12MP)
- Qualcomm SD855
- 8GB RAM, 128/256/512GB storage
It's long been claimed Sony is also working on a foldable smartphone and several concept videos from Tech Configurations show just how amazing the device could be. With various names speculated, including Xperia Note Flex, it's claimed Sony's foldable device will take things to the next level and also offer a transparent display.
An in-display fingerprint reader, dual rear camera and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 chip are all listed specs in the concept leaks. The Sony Xperia folding smartphone is also said to have a polymer joint and a 6.2-inch OLED display with a 4K resolution when folded out.
Like Sony and Samsung, Huawei has been rumoured to be working on a foldable smartphone for quite some time. It was claimed in July 2018 that the company planned to beat Samsung to the punch, though now it is expected to appear around the same time with many, including Huawei itself, suggesting MWC.
The device will be 5G enabled and it is expected to run the Kirin 980 platform and take the form of a tablet folding into a phone with the display on the outside. LetsGoDigital produced some renders of what it expected the device to look like and the site claimed it would be available to buy in April or May.
- 3-inches to 7-inches
- Display attachment or hinged
LG's foldable smartphone plans haven't been as heavily leaked as Samsung's but rumour suggests it too will announce a foldable device at Mobile World Congress 2019. Some leaks have suggested LG's device will be made up of two displays that combine into one when extended using an attachment said to be a case with a display.
Other rumours have claimed the LG foldable smartphone will be hinged, allowing the display to fold in half rather than bend. Both rumours claim each screen will be a little more than 3-inches, with the overall device folding out to a 7-inch tablet.
- Internal and external display
- Fingerprint sensor
Speculation suggests Motorola is quite literally morphing its 15-year old Razr flip phone into a foldable phone, switching the numerical keyboard for a full display that folds when you shut the phone.
It is claimed the Razr lookalike will not only offer a long internal display, but also a secondary screen on the rear, which will presumably show incoming notifications without the device needing to be open. A camera and fingerprint sensor also appear to be present, based on the leaked patent.
- More news expected at MWC
Like Motorola and LG, Oppo has filed patents for a foldable smartphone. The company's product manager is reported to have said news regarding Oppo's foldable smartphone plans will potentially appear at MWC but not much else was said.
What the phone might look like or what specifications it may offer are not yet known, but expect Oppo to launch a foldable smartphone at some point.
President of Xiaomi, Lin Bin, tweeted a teaser video of a foldable phone so the trend is on the Chinese company's radar. The device folds both sides, allowing for a smaller phone unit from the larger 4:3 tablet. The video shows the software adapting accordingly depending on the form factor.
Currently the device is just an engineering sample, though Bin said if it is liked by enough people, the company would consider developing a consumer version. He asked for name suggests. We are all about Foldy Mcfoldface.
Apple has filed a couple of patents for foldable phones, suggesting the Cupertino company is also working on a device to meet this trend. According to one patent, the Apple foldable smartphone may use "overlapping hinges" attached to "flexible displays".
Another patent suggests the device could roll rather than fold. Naturally, rumours are very contradictory but it has been said Apple will wait till 2020 to release a foldable smartphone so we might have a little longer to wait yet.