The first generation of foldable smartphones from Samsung and Huawei have been officially announced. Samsung has introduced the Galaxy Fold, equipped with a flexible screen that folds inwards. In addition, an extra front display is available for the moments the device is folded. Huawei has presented a totally different design with the Mate X, this flexible display stays on the outside when you fold the device.
Foldable phones in all kinds of variants
Samsung is expected to release various models in the coming years. In addition to the models mentioned -both of which unfold into a tablet size screen- manufacturers like Samsung also develop a clamshell smartphone. Motorola will probably be the first manufacturer to release a folding clamshell phone in the form of a new RAZR smartphone.
Yesterday LetsGoDigital published about an unseen variant of this model. This foldable Samsung smartphone had a clamshell design with the display on the outside. Have we then had all model variants? No, it is expected that bendable phone models will also be introduced in the long term, these are so flexible that the entire phone can change shape.
This creates the possibility to use a large phone screen for the moments you want to use the device intensively. Are you on the go? You can then simply bend the phone on your wrist. It can also become a good alternative to the smart watch. Various market reports show that the wearable market is on the rise and will continue to grow in the coming years.
However, the smart watch has one major disadvantage, the size of the display. After all, a smart watch must fit on the wrist and it also needs to feel comfortable. Although manufacturers are developing new techniques to incorporate more functions into the watch band, it would be even more ideal if you can simply bend the mobile device into a fully-fledged smartphone.
Flexible Samsung phone can be used as a smart watch
Halfway through last year, Samsung Electronics filed a patent with WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) for a “Shape retaining structure of electronic device and electronic device including same”. The patent was published on March 7, 2019.
The patent from Samsung describes a mobile phone with a flexible display. The device can bend in one direction and curl up, as it were. This way, users can wear the smartphone on their wrist. When the flexible phone is fully unfolded, you will have an elongated display at your disposal. Due to the narrow shape, the device remains easy to operate with one hand. At the top and bottom of the device we see a fairly large bezel, in which all sensors are placed.
Due to the flexible design, the device tends to automatically roll up again. To prevent this from being happening users can lock the phone, for this a small slider has been fitted at the rear. When the user pushes the slider downwards, the phone can be used in the unfolded position, it will then no longer automatically fold back to the curved position.
Additionally, a magnet is placed at both ends of the bendable Samsung phone. The magnets attract each other when the bendable phone is rolled up. This way, the device stays nicely on your wrist and cannot just fall off. A camera is visible to the left of the sliding mechanism. The patent description does not elaborate on the functionality of the camera system. The SIM card can be inserted at the top and the bottom offers space for a connection to charge the device.
The back of the smartphone is further provided with an elastic plate, which simply bends in the desired direction. Various materials can be used for this, including stainless steel. Furthermore, the device has a lot of small links that make it possible to bend the device. These are designed in such a way that the outside feels smooth, this will improve the wearing comfort, according to the patent description.
Bendable smartphones in the future
To develop a flexible phone as patented by Samsung many hardware components have to be flexible. Like the battery, the circuit board and the antenna. Much of this technology is now available.
Yet the question remains how such a device will be experienced in practice. Although it looks super futuristic, wearing comfort may become the bottleneck. If it does not feel comfortable on the wrist, the device will also be used considerably less, after which it will soon end up in the back of the cupboard. It is not only the shape that must be taken into account, the weight is also an important factor.
In 2016 Lenovo already showed a concept of a flexible phone that can bend on your wrist. Since, we have heard very little about this smartphone. However, there is another company that announced a stylish bendable phone that same year, the Chinese start-up Moxi Group. This phone had one big disadvantage, the flexible display was only able to show black and white images. A color variant was planned for 2018, but so far this product has not yet been put to market.
Nevertheless, there is a good chance that several manufacturers are currently developing a flexible, bendable phone. It’s difficult to predict when the first models will be introduced, we will probably first see other variations of the foldable phone, including a clamshell design.
Here you can download the Samsung patent.
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