It’s been a bumpy road for foldable phones in 2019. The expectations were high, but the reality was sobering. The Samsung Galaxy Fold was delayed due to serious issues with the reliability of the display. When it came to market, only a few countries got it and it was hugely overpriced. The Huawei Mate X never saw the daylight in the US and Europe. Reason: the presidential ban on using Android and Google apps by the Chinese company. And the Royole Flexpai was such a bulky and buggy device, that no one wanted to buy it. Let’s forget about 2019 and fast forward to 2020. What do manufacturers have in the pipeline and when do we expect to see those devices in the shops?
The Korean company hasn’t given up on foldable phones just yet. After 8 years of development, investing billions of dollars, Samsung is determined to make phones with flexible displays a success. There are at least two devices planned, industry sources tell us. First, a clamshell phone that will have a square form factor when folded and will unfold into a 6.8 inch screen. The device has a small secondary display on the outside and three camera’s. Two on the outside and one in a punch-hole on the flexible display. The device will go head-to-head with the new Motorola Razr that is planned for 2020. It will be a mid-tier phone with a price tag around $1000. Alleged images of the phone (pictured below) have leaked online in the past weeks, but it’s not certain that they are genuine.
The second Samsung foldable that is planned, is the successor to the Galaxy Fold. Little is know about it yet, but it’s expected to launch in the second half of 2020 and will come down in price, to the $1500 range. It is rumoured to shave some of it’s weight and thickness and may possible have an ultra-thin glass display cover layer. Samsung trademarked the term ‘Ultra Thin Glass’ recently.
The Chinese company is expected to launch at least two devices in 2020 with foldable displays. First, an updated Mate X with a faster processor (Kirin 990) and faster charging (65W). The device was announced at a trade meeting (picture below) and will be called the Mate Xs (with the added ‘s’). It’s not sure if it will run Android or the homebrew Harmony OS. Much depends on the trade negotiations between the US and Chinese governments. Secondly, Huawei may launch a mid-tier device, around the $1000 mark, with a smaller display and lower processor and camera specs. It’s unclear whether this device will be folding outward or inward, vertically or horizontally. It may be announced as soon as Mobile World Congress in February.
Motorola has recently announced a delay in the release of their highly anticipated Razr Fold. It will still launch in 2020, not early in the year as planned, but around summer time. The clamshell device received many positive reviews (one of them embedded below) and as a result, demand has been overwhelming. Motorola fabs can’t spit out that many flexible displays just yet, hence the delay.
The Chinese company has quickly become one of the major players in the smartphone industry. It teased a foldable device early 2019, with a dual hinge design. However, when asked if we could expect it any time soon, a company spokesman told Foldable.News that Xiaomi was not in a rush to bring it to market. They wanted to see how demand developed. It’s not unlikely that Xiaomi will announce a foldable device later this year.
The Chinese company will show a concept phone as early as next week during the CES trade show in Las Vegas. It’s rumoured to be a foldable phone. The only specs leaked so far, are it’s 5G network capabilities. OnePlus registered a new model with the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, for radio frequency approval.
Apple has yet to announce any plans to use flexible displays in its products. But the tech giant from Cupertino hasn’t given up on the technology and is still investigating what it can do with it. For the second year in a row, a large Apple delegation was present at Display Week, a trade show in San Jose, last autumn, where the newest advances in display technology were shown. As observed by industry analysts, Apple personnel was looking at foldable displays from manufacturers such as CSOT and Tianma, who were present at the show. A foldable iPhone remains a dream for many, but is not something we expect to see in 2020. Innovation, which was key when Steve Jobs ran the company, has become very slow under Tim Cook’s leadership.