Foldable phones: a flop or not?

Samsung is trying to make futuristic-looking bendable tablets and smartphones a reality.

The Galaxy maker showed off its new Infinity Flex Display this week, a display technology that will allow a tablet-sized screen to fold into a device that approximates the size and shape of a smartphone. While there already has been flexible and bendable wearable devices, this is one of the first times we’ve seen such a display in a phone that’s rumored to ship in 2019. Samsung has explained that the device is far more than just concept art.

This combination of displays has given an early glimpse at what to expect from foldable phones in 2019 and beyond. The Infinity Flex Display uses a polymer that Samsung says is both “flexible and tough,” meaning it can keep its strength even when folded and unfolded “hundreds of thousands of times”. None of this is glass, though, so it could feel a little different to modern phones, tablets, and touchpads.

However, despite the concept only being released, the foldable debate has already begun. Wall Street Journal tech columnist Christopher Mims calls it the ‘3D TV of the mobile world’ which of course never really caught on. Not everyone agrees that foldable phones will flop, though.

“Few are debating ‘if’ foldable or rollable mobile displays are the future of smartphones, the only question is when and by whom,” explains Patrick Moorhead, an industry analyst at Moor Insights and former AMD executive. “The core benefit of a foldable smartphone is that the user can have the benefit of a larger display but can still fit it into their pocket, coat, or purse.”

Justin Denison, SVP of mobile product marketing at Samsung explains, “the breakthroughs we’ve made in display materials have been matched by breakthroughs in manufacturing. As a result, we’ll be ready to start mass production in the coming months.”

Foldable phones, a flop or not? What are your thoughts?