Foldable display: Could this be the upcoming smartphone trend for 2019?

Amidst FlexPai being the first foldable phone, these tech giants are hopping to join the trend soon.

For the past few years, leading smartphone brands have been sweating their palm off developing prototype smartphones with foldable and flexible display. But the flexible display technology took a concrete shape this year when Royole, a five-year-old company showcased the world’s first true foldable phone FlexPai at CES 2019.

Royole Flexpai. Image: Royole Website

Royole FlexPai. Image: Royole Website

The China-based company astounded the smartphone industry with its flexible display phone last October, a few days before Samsung’s foldable display smartphone was introduced.

The phone measures a 7.8-inch diagonally and serves as a tablet when opened while closing it shrinks the display to roughly 5-inch. With the use of Royole’s flexible film technology, the sides can fold 180 degrees. To one’s wonder, the ‘spine’ of the flexible display phone serves as a third small display and pop-up notification.

Royole cited that the display will survive even after 2,00,000 bends, however, early adopted criticised about the cheap plastic OLED panel. Underneath the phone sits a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor. The Royole FlexPai runs the proprietary Water OS which is layered on top of Google’s Android 9.0 Pie.

It features dual 16 MP + 20 MP camera sensors, 3790 mAh battery and supports Royole’s custom Ro Charge technology.

Smartphone manufacturer ZTE unveiled a folding display phone as well last year called the ZTE Axon M. But although the phone offered dual displays its clamshell design didn’t justify the flexibility that we saw on the FlexPai.

But while this small start-up from China managed to outrun the tech giants; Samsung, Huawei and few major smartphone brands are tying up their laces to join the foldable display technology bandwagon.

Speaking of the South Korean tech company first, Samsung as we mentioned earlier showcased its first consumer foldable display phone at its annual developer conference last year. The company rather keeping it a mystery show a “disguised” version of the phone on stage. However, Samsung back then did mention that it created Infinity Flex display for its upcoming foldable phone. While little is known about the mysterious phone, reports are now claiming that Samsung might unleash the device at its Galaxy Unpacked event on 20 February.

Samsung's folding smartphone. Image: Reuters

Samsung's folding smartphone. Image: Reuters

LG is another OEM in the line said to be planning to introduce a foldable phone this year. The LG Display division has been profoundly working on flexible display technology. The leakster Evan Blass earlier claimed that LG could showcase a foldable phone at the Consumer Electronics trade show but the phone never showed up on stage.

Besides Samsung and LG, Huawei has also confirmed its plan to launch a foldable phone this year. The company’s CEO earlier said that the foldable phone will support 5G. Catching up the list, Xiaomi and Motorola are two new contenders said to be developing their individual foldable phone. Evan Blass earlier this month posted a video in his Twitter handle that showed a phone with a flexible display. Although the video barely gave an insight on the phone’s brand name, he stated that the video was “allegedly made” by Xiaomi.

Motorola is rumoured to be working on its own foldable phone as well. In its report, The Wall Street Journal cited that the upcoming Motorola foldable phone would be sold in exclusively by the US mobile carrier Verizon Wireless.

Interestingly, the phone will likely use the company’s once so popular RAZR branding, a name that was known for sleek flip phones. As per the report, Motorola is said to be planning to launch this early February for a price of $1,500.

But until these phones are made available as fully functional commercial device, Royole’s phone-tablet hybrid FlexPai will revel in as a unique foldable and flexible display phone. However, the biggest question here remains is whether the foldable display technology will be the smartphone town’s next hot trend (besides hole-punch display) in 2019.

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