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Folding displays: the game changer of 2019?

Lucie Spraggs's picture

It’s safe to say that the mobile phone game is due a new look. Since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, all phones have been heading in one aesthetical direction. They’re all a pretty standard shape, all a pretty standard design and roughly saying, all look pretty similar. So, after years of incremental improvements, could smartphones be hurtling toward a big technological leap: folding displays?

Concept folding display from Lenova


Ok, so we’ve seen patents, prototypes and rumours of folding displays for a few years. But recently the gossip seems a bit more reliable, suggesting that 2019 could be the year of the folding display.

ZTE has already launched one product in the “folding” category: 2017’s ZTE Axon M. Unlike that device, which has two separate displays and folds in the middle, the new breed of phones is expected to set the world alight with single, flexible screens.

No more cracked screens?

Cracked screens have plagued the smartphone world for years, but foldable screens could see an end to this.


No, we’re not suggesting that foldable screens would be impossible to crack, but they are set to make them far less likely. Current smartphones have made great strides in this regard — Corning’s Gorilla Glass has made them sturdier and more resistant to breaks than ever before — but they’re still brittle.

The folding screen is going to have to be flexible just to achieve what it’s designed to do, meaning they are far less likely to shatter.

Though we don’t yet know which materials will be used in flexible display production (plastic OLED or LCD look like front-runners), we know it will be fundamentally more impact resistant.

So, when your next phone makes friends with the floor, it may not be the end of your display.

Better selfies?

The folding screen could well replace the need for the front facing camera (which have historically always lacked in comparison to their rear facing counterpart). With folding phones (specifically, outward folding phones), the main camera could act as both the front and rear camera, depending on whether the device is open or closed.


This would mean OEMs could focus on one exceptional camera, rather than splitting their attention between two, and free up valuable space inside the handset for other components.

The end of the tablet?

In 2014, Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly said, “I don’t think there’s a category that ever took off so quickly and so big in the history of tech.” But with the tablet becoming an endangered species, there’s a chance that it could die out just as quickly.

The increasing size of smartphone screens and the introduction of the 'phablet' are partly responsible for this.  Also, laptops have gotten smaller and feature touchscreens and offer a fantastic hybrid option.

The introduction of the folding display phone, which effectively becomes a tablet when opned up (with the same operating system), can't be good news for the tablet.

When both touchscreen laptops and folding phones can become a tablet, what’s the point of getting just a tablet?

Who's in the game?

The manufacturers who are making noises about folding displays are:

Samsung Galaxy X

Samsung Galaxy X


Motorola Razr 2019

Motorola Razr 2019


LG Bendi

LG Bendi


Xiaomi MIX Flex

Xiaomi Mix Flex


Huawei Mate 5G

Huawei Mate 5G