Samsung Beaten To World’s First Foldable Phone

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A little-known Chinese company has beat tech-giant Samsung to release the world’s first foldable phone. 

You might be thinking, ‘world’s first foldable phone? Pfft, I was rocking one of those back in the early 2000s’ (shoutout to my Motorola Razr crew) – but this new release isn’t a flip phone, it’s a phone that you can literally fold, like a piece of paper.

According to the Independent, Samsung have been teasing the release of their version of the foldable device since 2014, and after lots of anticipation, some of the phone’s features are finally expected to be revealed at the Samsung Developer Conference 2018, which takes place this week (November 6-7).

Unfortunately they seem to be just a couple of days late in making the foldable phone the first of its kind, as Business Insider report the company Royole have launched their design and allowed journalists and reviewers to have a play with the phone on Monday (November 5).

The flexible creation, named ‘FlexPai’, is made up of a 7.8-inch plastic screen which can be halved when folded, in a single 180-degree twist.

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering what the actual point of the folding feature is. Making half of the screen invisible to your eyes seems counterintuitive, but apparently the purpose is to have a device which can be the size of a phone, making it useful for transporting in your average pocket, while also offering the screen size of a tablet.

As with any first-release however, the foldable phone has its issues…

A reviewer at Mashable wrote:

Folded up it becomes closer to normal smartphone size, though it’s still significantly wider than most phones. It also doesn’t fold completely flat, thanks to the hinge, which also makes it a bit awkward to hold.

On one of the phones I tried, the plastic display was beginning to lift a little in the space over the hinges. It made an audible crunching sound while folding.

Royal says it’s still working to improve the software, and from what I saw, it’s very much a work in progress. [sic] There was a noticeable delay when rotating the screen or folding or unfolding the phone.

‘An audible crunching sound’ probably isn’t what you want to hear when using your new phone, but execs at Royole insist it was simply ‘a known issue due to the adhesive used in the engineering samples, and that it won’t be a problem on the final version.’

The foldable phone will go on sale as a consumer device in China, but in the US, it’ll only be available from December as a developer model.

According to Mashable the developer edition costs $1,318 (£1,008) for 128 GB of storage, and $1,469 (£1,124) for 256 GB.

Another review said the device was ‘fine as a phone, but sh*t for folding into a successful aeroplane. It might work for getting Scrabble pieces back in the bag’.

Okay, so I made that review up, but they’re certainly the qualities I’d be looking for in any foldable mobile phone I’m paying over a grand for.

We’ll have to see how Samsung’s foldable phone compares if they reveal anything about it at their upcoming conference.

The tech company shared a picture on Facebook of their logo folded back on itself, hinting some details could be on the way.

Posted by Samsung Mobile on Sunday, 4 November 2018

Let’s be honest though, the foldable phones will never quite live up to the classic flip phone, will they?

They definitely won’t provide the same satisfaction of hanging up on someone by closing the phone with an aggressive snap.

BYE THEN *snap*.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.