If you haven’t already seen, quite a lot of brands are launching foldable smartphones. The likes of Samsung, Google, Motorola, Huawei and Oppo have already released foldable phones and some are even on follow up generations. When we first saw the Samsung Infinity Flex display released in 2018 it looked like something out of a sci-fi movie, and to be honest every time you see one folding it looks like it’s going to break. Let’s take a look into the world of folding phones and see if they really are the future, or just a fad that very few people will buy.

Different types of folding phone

Folding tablet smartphoneFirst of all, there is not just one type of folding phone. There are two main types, the first being the folding tablet style as we are going to call it. When folded it has a main screen on the front in the same size as a normal phone with a camera on the back. Then when unfolded it reveals a much bigger tablet sized screen inside. Some examples include the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Google Pixel Fold. The other type is a flip folding phone. When folded they are a small square with a smaller screen on the front to show basic information like notifications, then when unfolded it reveals a screen the size of a standard smartphone. Not as many of these currently exist, but some include the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, Motorola Razor and Oppo Find N2 Flip.  The benefit of the first type is that you get a tablet sized device in the dimensions of what we know now as a normal phone, and the second one being a much smaller device with the same screen size as the phones we have all grown to love.

Current sales figures

Flip folding smartphoneIn 2022 1.2 billion smartphones were sold around the world and 14.2 million of those sales were folding smartphones. This means that only 1.2% of smartphones sold in 2022 had a folding screen. Although 14.2 million is a lot of devices, they are still a very niche product and are a very long way off from becoming the norm. However, the amount of folding smartphones sold in 2022 is a 300% increase from the sales in 2020, so in 2 years they have already had a massive jump. Could this increase even more now that other companies like Google are releasing folding phones.

What’s the catch?

Like with most new advancements in technology there are downsides which are some of the main hold backs stopping them from becoming as main stream as current phones. The first being the price, obviously to make such a complicated device with a screen that can be durable enough to fold multiple times a day without breaking, squeaking or getting jammed with dust there is a lot of development cost involved which increases the price you will pay to own it. The current crop of foldable phones are on average around £1,000. The devices are also not perfect. None of the current brands have been able to solve one thing, and that is the crease. When unfolded there is still a visible line/crease down the middle of the screen from where it has been folded. Since the very first iterations they have already come on a long way to reduce this but they are still there and you definitely notice it, especially when swiping across the crease on the screen.

New versions

As well as the current ones released, there are already concepts of different types of screens in the future. Some of our favourites include folding screen laptops the normal size of a laptop but with a massive screen inside. Samsung have also previewed rolling screens that roll up like a poster and can be unrolled into a bigger device. So in theory your TV could roll up into a smaller space when you are not watching it.

There is no denying that they are very futuristic, but at the moment they are the type of device that you really have to love the idea of to lay out the initial investment. Only time will tell if they do catch on and replace the type of smartphone that nearly everyone owns today.