Folding smartphones have become one of the most talked about innovations in technology as of late. We are talking about what could be the next big thing in the mobile industry. Phones with displays that can bend without breaking.These futuristic-looking devices have consumers excited and anxious. It has companies designing, building and testing. The marketplace is in a frenzy. With the impending release of multiple devices from a handful of manufacturers, we have to ask the big question…Who will claim the throne? Who will dominate? Who will be crowned king of the new folding smartphone era?  Let’s take a look at the competitors in this new emerging market to help answer these questions.

 

Royole was First…To be the Worst

Royole, a startup company founded by Stanford graduates, was first to launch a foldable smartphone.  However, just because they were first doesn’t mean they were necessarily the best. As a matter of fact, it might actually be the complete opposite.  Their folding smartphone, called the FlexPai, left a lot to be desired to say the least. The camera is terrible, the interface malfunctions and the design itself doesn’t even look appealing.  To be brutally honest, Royole rushed this horribly atrocious device to market, just to beat Samsung and Huawei to the punch. In doing so, it not only had a negative impact on their overall brand, but simultaneously set up their competitors for success. Whatever their competitors release will be appreciated much more, since almost anything will be better than this horrid contraption.

 

Samsung’s Setbacks and Shortcomings

The much anticipated flagship phone from Samsung, the Galaxy Fold, was supposed to shock and awe consumers.  Instead, the release of this phone has been pushed back indefinitely, due to issues with the handset’s durability.  Apparently the display on a number of these devices began cracking within days after the device was received. Samsung placed a recall on these defective units and was forced to go back to the drawing board.  Supposedly they have found a solution and are preparing for a relaunch sometime in the near future. However, the negative publicity from their initial launch might have a severe impact on the projected sales.  The device will cost about $2,000, which might be too much, considering the defects found in the first round of devices that were distributed.

 

Mate X Takes the Lead

With the recent unsuccessful launch of the Galaxy Fold, Huawei has taken the spotlight.  Their premier folding smartphone, the Mate X, might be the real deal. Some have even gone as far as to call it the “Phone of the Future.”  Even prior to Samsung’s recent speedbumps, the Mate X was already gaining traction and popularity amongst consumers. The design is elegant and lightweight as opposed to the big and clunky FlexPai.  The interface may have a few bugs from time to time but can easily be corrected by closing and opening the device. One downside, when compared to the Galaxy Fold, is that it closes outward leaving the screen exposed, while the Galaxy Fold closes inward and protects the screen.  However, the Mate X’s display is considerably larger than the Fold. The price tag on this device is $2,600, making it the more expensive option for those looking to buy. Besides the hefty price tag, this device will be released in the UK and doesn’t have a release date for the U.S. as of yet.  Therefore, consumers will have to import the device for now, if they decide to purchase it.

 

Motorola Razr4 Looks Promising

Motorola, responsible for creating the Razr, one of the most popular phone designs of all time, is bringing back their design.  This time they will be incorporating the new foldable display technology into the device this time around. Their new prototype will be called the Razr V4 and it will be exclusive to Verizon.  There will only be 200,000 units available, so it will be a first come first served type of situation. The phone will cost around $1,500, making it one of the more “affordable” folding smartphones on the market.  There is no exact release date as of yet, but Motorola is leaning towards releasing this device sometime during the summer of 2019. This phone could definitely be successful, considering the track record of the previous Razr designs.  However, limiting the units to a fixed amount might prevent this phone from reaching it’s full sales potential.

 

Honorable Mentions

Out of all the speculation and questions surrounding the folding phone rumors, the biggest question of them all might be in regards to Apple and LG.  Are they in or are they out? Apparently, Apple has recently applied for patents for a folding smartphone design. Sources say that they are aiming for a 2020 release.  LG, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be focused on creating any prototypes to compete in the market at the moment. One other company that “might” get involved if there is a demand in the marketplace for a folding smartphone, is Xiaomi.  They have recently displayed an impressive prototype that has caught the eye of many consumers. This device differs from the rest by incorporating a dual-fold design concept that hasn’t been seen yet in any of the other designs. Other than the brief hands-on video they have released displaying the functionality of the phone, no other specifications or details have been given.  

 

To Sum it all Up

It seems that most companies are trying to get ahead of the curve and be the first to develop a quality folding smartphone that will gain some traction in the marketplace.  The fact of the matter is, that as exciting as these new designs are, we still shouldn’t get our hopes up too high. There are still a lot of pitfalls and potential obstacles to overcome.  The constant bending of these screens has led to visible creases over time and even shattered the LCD on a few of these devices. The glass-plastic (glastic…I made that up) polymer that allows the screen to bend makes it more prone to scratches. Not to mention, these phones will cost an arm and a leg (maybe an eye and an ear too). I guess it is too early to decide which company will earn the crown, but at least now you know who is in the race and where they stand!

 

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