Foldable phones may seem like eccentric luxuries, but they also try to solve a problem, that of the screen size paradox. Consumers want larger screens that allow them to enjoy their content more comfortably, but they don’t want really big devices that make it difficult to transport. Foldable phones try to offer the best of both worlds of a practical smartphone and a large tablet, but today’s technologies have too many compromises for that to happen, not to mention the price tags that prevent these devices from becoming mainstream. . While the wrinkles are slowly starting to disappear, durability is still a major concern. More importantly, current designs require a second “external” screen so that the phone can be used even when closed. Samsung is now showing off a new foldable screen and a hinge that can fold both ways, which could put an end to all foldable design debates.
Designer: Samsung (via The Verge)
Although Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold might seem like the standard design for foldables these days, it wasn’t the only one at first. The Royole FlexPai and Huawei Mate X (as well as the new Huawei Mate Xs 2), both released before the first-generation Galaxy Fold, had an “outie” design where the screen folded out and back. This created a device that only had one screen, reducing the components and complexity required by an “innie” design like the Galaxy Z Fold. At the time, however, the fragile nature of flexible displays and early hinge technologies made that design less appealing.
The likes of the Galaxy Z Fold 4, OPPO Find N2, and other “innie” foldable devices protected that expensive display panel, but at the cost of needing an external screen if you wanted to use the device like a regular phone when closed. Otherwise, you’d be left with something like the Microsoft Surface Duo that had to be folded back to use even a single screen. The ideal thing for a foldable phone would be to fold both in and out, and that’s what Samsung’s “Flex In & Out” screen tries to propose.
At first glance, the prototype looks like an ordinary Galaxy Z Fold phone with its flexible panel folding inwards. However, it can actually bend past 180 degrees all the way to 360 degrees, which means it can be folded all the way back in the opposite direction. This truly combines the best of both worlds of internal and external designs, eliminating the need for a second external display and potentially lowering the cost to build the entire device.
Samsung showed off similar technology last year in the form of the “Flex S” screen, though it seemed to only bend in one direction or the other instead of both. It is unknown when this screen will be ready for mass production and consumption, assuming it is durable enough to withstand not only multiple folds but also hard objects inside pockets or bags. It could still take a year or so for this device to actually be available to buy, so Samsung fans will have to make do with a more traditional Galaxy Z Fold 5 with an improved “waterdrop” hinge.