Our First Foldables
As noted, a few foldable devices are almost ready for primetime. Here's a breakdown of what's coming, and some of the key features of each.
Samsung Galaxy Fold: The 4.58" Super AMOLED screen can unfold to reveal a larger 7.3" Dynamic AMOLED screen. Smart multitasking allows you to do things like expand a Google Maps view by unfolding the phone to see more. Or, you can split the tablet-sized screen up to three ways to view multiple apps at once. It has two batteries, one in each half, for a combined 4,380mAh capacity, along with an octa-core processor chip, 128GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and six lenses, including three on the back, two inside, and one on the front. Running Android "Pie" 9.0, it will be available in the U.S. starting April 26 in space silver, cosmos black, martian green, and astro blue for US$1,980. Canadian pricing is TBD.
Huawei Mate X: Boasting a 5G modem, the foldable 6.6" FullView OLED screen is combined with a Falcon Wing Mechanical Hinge, and 4,500mAh battery with SuperCharge technology that can recharge it up to 85% in just half an hour. Unlike the Fold, the Mate X has a single screen that wraps around the outside of the phone when it's folded up, then flattens out when you open it to become an 8" tablet that's just 5.4mm thin. When folded, it measures just 11mm thin. It has 40MP wide, 16MP ultrawide, and 8MP telephoto cameras that let you see the photo on the rear as you shoot from the front. Available in Q2, pricing will be US$2,600.
Royole FlexPai: Announced in China last October and previewed at CES 2019, it has a 7.8" Flexible AMOLED screen that the company says is "virtually unbreakable," having passed tests where it was bent more than 200,000 times. Operating on the Water OS, which is based on Android 9.0, when the screen is unfolded, you can see a larger image, or view two apps at once in split screen mode. It has up to 256GB of storage, plus can accept up to 256GB more via optional microSD card. With two cameras (16MP wide-angle and 20MP telephoto), you can use Dual View Camera Mode to see the photo on both sides at the same time. The phone runs on an octa-core processor, and has a 3,970mAh battery. Pre-order one for about US$1,300 for the 128GB version ($1,469 for the 256GB). It will be coming to Canada, but an ETA and pricing have not yet been confirmed.
Xiaomi Dual Flex: This Chinese manufacturer could come out of the gate and surprise the industry with its foldable phone, which outlets like The Verge have called the best they've seen yet. Revealed in a minute-long teaser video, it has two hinges that fold on either side so you can transform it from tablet to smartphone mode versus a single hinge in the middle like the other devices. Lin Bin, Xiaomi's co-founder, refers to the concept device as a "double folding mobile phone." But it remains to be seen whether the phone will ever actually see the light of day.
Unlike the others, Xiaomi's concept foldable, the Dual Flex, has hinges on either side that fold in and out to transform it from a smartphone to a tablet, and vice versa.
TCL: The company that makes phones for BlackBerry and Alcatel is joining the fray with a foldable phone, which was shown in concept form at Mobile World Congress. The phone has a 7.2" AMOLED screen and four rear cameras, but that's all we know so far.
Several other companies have shown, or expressed interest in, developing foldable phones, including Oppo, ZTE, Vivo, and Sony. Apple has remained mum on the topic, as noted, but the company has filed many patents for a folding screen. So if nothing else, they're presumably at least entertaining the idea of the first folding iPhone.