2019 is definitely the year of the foldable smartphone. We’ve seen Samsung and Huawei come forward with foldable handsets of their own, and to our surprise, it was rumored that Motorola could be working on a similar device with the revival of their iconic Razr flip phone, except designed with a more modern twist.
Now thanks to a series of renders posted on Slashleaks, it seems that we could have gotten our first look at what the upcoming phone could look like. As expected, the phone seems to very closely resemble the Razr when folded shut and is in line with an earlier discovered patent.
It does have a huge lip at the bottom that sticks out quite a bit, suggesting that the phone is meant to be kept closed when not in use. This is versus the other foldable phones from Samsung and Huawei which are still very much like smartphones, except when unfolded they are transformed into tablet-like devices.
As for the specs of the device, we have heard that the phone could be packing a 6.2-inch 2142×876 display and could also have a secondary display on the outside. Oddly enough, the chipset of choice has been rumored to be the Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 and might be paired with 4-6GB of RAM. We would have thought that Motorola might prefer using the Snapdragon 855, but then again these are rumors so they’re probably best taken with a grain of salt.
Also based on the renders, assuming they’re accurate, it seems like the phone could only feature a single rear-facing camera. Perhaps Motorola is hoping that with its basic features, they can keep costs down (Samsung and Huawei’s foldable smartphones are priced starting at the $2,000 mark). There is no word on when Motorola might be officially announcing the handset, but we’ll keep our eyes peeled.
Motorola has more or less confirmed that they are developing a foldable smartphone of their own, with some reports claiming that it might actually come in the form of the legendary Razr. That speculation was later fueled by patents that were discovered that depicted such a device.
That’s the hardware side of it, but what about the software features that would make Motorola’s foldable device truly unique? The good folks at over XDA Developers have managed to get some details about the upcoming phone from their source and assuming it’s accurate, it sounds like Motorola’s foldable phone will have some pretty cool software features.
For starters, one of the rumored features is how when the device is unfolded, the “closed” part of the display can function as a trackpad which can be used to scroll through websites on Google Chrome, as well as scrolling the app’s timeline. The closed section of the display can also display six Quick Settings tiles that will provide shortcuts to certain settings on your device, but it is unclear if users can scroll to see more or customize these shortcuts further.
Users are also expected to be able to choose different wallpapers from the closed display and the primary display, with additional information such as a clock, pulsing notifications, and also the ability to control media via the external display.
It might seem a little strange that Motorola could be adopting a clamshell design, but then again it’s still too early to tell what the “perfect” design is when it comes to foldable smartphones. Motorola also might not be alone in creating such a device as last we heard, Samsung could have new foldable devices in the works, one of which is rumored to sport a similar clamshell design.
Source: XDA Developers
Right now in the battle of the foldable phones, it’s pretty much a fight between Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X, but last month in a report from Business Insider, Huawei took their first shot at Samsung by claiming that the Galaxy Fold’s design was “not good”.
Huawei told the publication that they had several prototypes in the works, one of which had a similar design to the Galaxy Fold. They found that such a design resulted in a phone that is too heavy and that they had to kill it off because it was “not good”. If you thought that Samsung would let that comment slide, they haven’t and have since responded in kind defending the design of the Galaxy Fold.
Speaking to the Australian Financial Review, Samsung’s executive VP in charge of R&D, Eui-suk Chang, said that a design like the Mate X would make it more prone to damage due to the fact that the display is on the outside (and also because it uses a plastic screen).
“If you go with an outfold, you can close the device fully, but then the display is on the outside, which means it’s susceptible to all kinds of user errors. You might touch it by mistake or call someone by mistake. And if you drop it, the display is more susceptible to damage.”
That being said, it might still be too early to tell which design is the best as foldable phones are still brand new. Bryan Ma, vice president of devices research at IDC, believes that now is actually the perfect time for experimentation, where he feels that most of the designs probably won’t end up being successes, but they will still provide valuable lessons for companies as a result.
Source: Australian Financial Review (paywall; via MSPowerUser)
Want to know the secret behind Samsung and Huawei’s foldable smartphones? It uses a plastic screen which explains how the display is as flexible as it is. This is versus the use of glass which is commonly found on pretty much all our smartphones these days. Unfortunately, in turn, it also creates a problem with the overall durability of the phone.
Thankfully that seems to be a problem that Corning is looking to solve as during an interview with WIRED, the company has revealed that they are working on bendable glass solution for future smartphone displays.
In an explanation by John Mauro, a professor of materials science and engineering at Penn State University who had also previously worked at Corning:
“With the polymer, the molecules can rearrange themselves more easily in response to stress, whereas the glass has a more rigid structure, so the response of the glass is going to be more elastic. The structure of the glass will be able to recover after the deformations.”
This means that in theory if one were to use a bendable glass display, it should be able to avoid some of the pitfalls involved in current foldable screens, which are creases that could appear over time with the repeated folding and unfolding of the screen. Corning is now working on a bendable glass that measures 0.1mm thin that is also capable of bending at a 0.5mm radius.
Corning is no stranger to bendable glass as they had previously worked on the Willow glass, but it seems that the process used to make the Willow glass makes it unsuitable for phones.
They are, however, expected to combine their experience with the Willow glass and their Gorilla Glass to come up with a solution that could potentially find its way into our foldable smartphones in the future.
Given that at the moment when it comes to foldable smartphones, there are really only two that we can choose from (the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei’s Mate X), that’s not really much choice to begin with. For those who are excited about foldable phones possibly being the future of smartphones, it seems that Samsung could actually have more such devices in the works.
This is based on a report from Bloomberg which cites people familiar with the matter who claims that Samsung has not one, but two foldable devices in development. The publication’s sources claim that one model will be a clamshell model (similar to Motorola’s rumored foldable Razr smartphone), while the other could be similar to design as the Huawei Mate X where the display folds outwards and away from the user.
It sounds like Samsung could be getting ahead of themselves, especially since foldable phones are still very much untested in the market and it is unclear how much of a demand there could be for them.
Not to mention the price tag of the current foldable phones such as the Galaxy Fold which is priced at $1,980, while Huawei’s Mate X crosses well into $2,000 territory puts such devices well out of the reach of the average customer.
The report goes on to add that the vertical-folding smartphone could be unveiled later in the year, while the model that folds outwards will come after that. With Samsung set to hold an event later in the year for the Galaxy Note 10 and another event for SDC 2019, those are some of the possible platforms in which these rumored devices could make their debut, but until then take it with a grain of salt.