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Foldable displays war: sci-fi tech in real life, at a cost

Mate X Promo video

Digital

Foldable displays war: sci-fi tech in real life, at a cost

Although foldable displays (and curved displays using similar technology) have been around for a bit, a new generation of devices is now coming of age. The upcoming launches of the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X, offering the best of both the smartphone and the tablet worlds, signal a turn in the foldable market – albeit with price tags that might throw you off at respectively $1,999 and $2,499.

Expensive technology

Both phones are pricey because the technology used for “folding” a device is complex.

To give you a taste of the issues at hand here’s a very practical example that you can try at home: stack five pieces of papers and fold them all in two. You’ll notice that the radius section of the outside sheet is larger than the inside one. Now, stick the sheets together and fold them again: they will crease on the inside, and that’s a problem for a phone.

Samsung, Huawei, Google, Apple, Motorola, Xiaomi and many others have all filed patents for a folding technique that either avoid or solve such issues.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold’s display is placed on the inside and folds inward, allowing for two screens: one on the outside when the device is folded, and a 7-inch foldable AMOLED display on the inside when the phone is open. That’s the cheapest, easiest (but not overly creative) technique.

The Mate X, however, managed to place the display on the outside, where the fifth paper would be in our demonstration above, and that’s an impressive feat. The Chinese phone maker fixed the radius issue with a small indent on the back. This ident counterbalances the pressure of the folding onto the display by giving it some space. This technology allows for only one display, but its innovative dimension might explain the $500 difference between the two devices.

Mobile wars: the up-and-comers

Xiaomi is giving foldable displays another thought and designed its upcoming phone for dual-folding – which means that the middle of the screen should also be subjected to physical pressure but somehow won’t be. Moreover, rumors are that the phone will cost half the price of the Galaxy Fold, at $999.

Here’s what it looks like:

Motorola, on the other hand, is ready to revive its dormant RAZR brand (which fans remember for its thinness) with a foldable model, that is widely anticipated.

The inward fold is somehow similar to that of the Galaxy Fold, opening up to unveil a large display with a secondary screen on the outside casing.

Courtesy of LETSGODIGITAL

LG is also serious about foldable display phones, but is taking the new technology at its own pace. Although the Korean brand filed patents for a display that folds out of a pen and another design similar to Motorola’s.

Courtesy of the Verge

And Finally, Apple and Google are also teasing new projects, with more patents.

Apple Courtesy of GSMarena
Google Courtesy of The Verge

The full-screen display war is only just ending, and every company or so has unveiled its version; trying to achieve the highest screen-to-body ratio: from waterdrops to punch-holes, mechanized cameras and displays on the back. However, this war is just beginning so who do you believe will be the victor? Do you think foldable displays really are the future and are they going to stick around, unlike 3D?

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