Foldable phones look set to be the big new smartphone trend of 2019. One has already launched and many more are on the way.
So settle down, read on, and start saying goodbye to your old rigid handset, because the future is flexible.
Samsung Galaxy X
The Samsung Galaxy X – or whatever it launches as – is the most high-profile folding phone on the horizon.
It has been rumored and even talked about by Samsung itself for a long time now but it’s finally about the launch, as the company has confirmed that it’s arriving on February 20, alongside the Galaxy S10 range.
This won’t be our first sight of the phone though, as Samsung has already demonstrated the screen that’s going to be used.
Rumors meanwhile point to a 7.3-inch display, a pair of 3,100mAh batteries, 12GB of RAM and 512GB or 1TB of storage.
All that tech doesn’t come cheap though, with rumors pointing to a price of between £1,500 (approximately $1,930 / AU$2,660) and £2,000 (roughly $2,570 / AU$3,550).
The phone will also support 5G, which is another thing we’re expecting a number of handsets to start offering this year.
Other details include the presence of Huawei’s Kirin 980 chipset (used in the likes of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro), and its Balong 5000 modem. We don’t know anything else about the handset yet, but we should learn more soon.
Motorola Razr V4
Motorola is rumored to be rebooting the Razr brand with the Motorola Razr V4, and rather than an old-fashioned clamshell design, it will apparently fold.
Patents have shown how it might look, which is to say, basically like you’d expect a modern take on the Razr to, with a flexible screen rather than a hinge.
The handset is rumored to be landing sometime in February, which could mean an announcement at MWC 2019. However, like most foldable phones it will probably be expensive, with a rumored starting price of roughly $1,500 (around £1,170, AU$2,010).
We’ve heard rumors that LG has a foldable phone in the works, and that’s on top of the company having mentioned “smartphones featuring different form factors” in a recent set of financial results, and having patented a foldable phone concept.
The company has also made a foldable TV already, so it seemingly has the expertise. In short then, while nothing is yet confirmed it seems like the question of a foldable LG phone is ‘when’ not ‘if’.
And in answer to that question, we’d guess we might well see one at some point in 2019.
While not likely to arrive as imminently as some on this list, Apple could well have a foldable phone of its own in the works.
If folding phones prove practical then we’d expect Apple will get involved eventually, but the company usually waits for tech to be polished rather than aiming to be first, so we might not see one for a while.
As with Apple, Sony also looks to be working on – or at least toying with – a foldable phone.
Evidence for this comes from a Sony patent, detailing both foldable and rollable smartphones. Of course, patents don’t always become products, but with much of the rest of the industry looking in this direction it would be no surprise if Sony is too.
The first foldable phone is actually already here, and it’s called the Royole FlexPai.
Currently you can only buy it in China (unless you’re happy with a developer version), and it’s not cheap at $1,300 (around £1,000 / AU$1,825).
You might want to hold off on that import too, as in our hands-on review we found that it was both very slow and had a very slow camera. In short, it seems like little more than a proof-of-concept.
Don’t get too excited just yet though, as this is little more than a concept device for now.
As while Lin Bin, the co-founder of Xiaomi, has posted on social media that the “Xiaomi double folding mobile phone is coming,” he also said “if you like it, we will consider making a mass production machine in the future.”
Oppo has confirmed that it plans to announce a foldable phone at MWC 2019 in late February, however that’s all we know, no specs or other details were revealed. We should find out more soon.
ZTE seemingly isn’t being left out of the folding action either, with the firm teasing a device from its Nubia sub-brand that’s set to “flex your life”. That doesn’t necessarily mean a folding phone, but it sure does sound like one.
We’ll know for sure soon, as like so many other handsets this is set to be unveiled at MWC 2019 in late February.