This week we ask the question: Are foldable phones the future, or a fad. I’ll talk about the pros and cons of the phone, different types of foldable phones, what might need to happen for these to become more accepted, and where that can take us into the future of compact mobile devices.
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This week’s Topics
5. The Apple Rumor Mill is a Churning
USB-C, WiFi 6e, and – an ACTION BUTTON? These are the rumors so far about the upcoming September Apple iPhone 15 event. Even the date is still a secret. But I will be going over what we might see, and why Qualcomm chips might still be in the phones.
Will you be getting a new iPhone?
4. Zoom Tells Employees to Come Back to the Office
Is the “Work from Home” movement over? Zoom asks employees to come back 2 days a week. I’ll talk about how, why, and what might happen if the employees decide to work elsewhere.
Tech History for the Week
RedHat IPO, IBM 5150, and Thomas Edison uttered those famous words – “Mary Had a Little Lamb“. That’s right. He made the first audio recording, and just like with my first podcast, it’s gone forever. But don’t worry. I have engrained this recording right here.
3. Google and Universal Music Using AI
The two companies are in talks to create a database and use artificial intelligence to counter any audio or video deepfake that could surface. This would debunk fake news stories, or any other incriminating audio/video clip that is presented. It can’t stop Skrulls, though…
2. PayPal Introduces PYUSD
PayPal’s new stablecoin in PYUSD might be the thing that will get you into cryptocurrency. While it’s not going to make you rich, it might show how people can move forward with banking and crypto.
1. Foldable Phones: Future or Fad?
Foldable smart phones have been around for a few years now, but they still are a relatively new technology. I remember seeing the first screen technologies that could fold, and curl up within itself at CES. They were fragile and worked better when rolled up than folded. At that time, I still was supporting a Windows OS phone.
Companies like Samsung are going in larger than.. well the standard phone screen, to turn it into the next craze.
And some consumers believe that foldable phones are the future of smartphones, while others think they are just a fad.
Ultimately, they are about $500 more expensive than a “Candy Bar” phone. And probably less tasty, too.
So today, we’re going to explore the pros and cons of foldable phones, what might need to happen for these to become more accepted, and where that can take us into the future of compact mobile devices.
The best part about a foldable phone is they can offer a larger, smaller, or even angled screen. You could fold out a screen to get a tablet size, you could fold it back in to get the smartphone size, with some, you flip in to get a compact size, turn it into a tent mode, and you can flip it 90 degrees open to act either as a stand, or a second screen for maybe a touch-screen keyboard, gaming pad, and more.
Samsung announced the Z Flip 5 and the Z Fold 5. The flip 5 folds down to half the size, and the fold becomes a mini-tablet.
The camera on the Z Flip 5 is also a big advantage to the VLOGGER or selfie taker because it has a screen on the front large enough to put yourself in position.
On the flip side – get it? Flip? – The phones are currently more expensive than traditional smartphones. Manufacturing is mostly to blame for this, so when they are more widely manufactured, prices could go down.
Foldable phones are also more fragile than traditional smartphones. The folding mechanism is a weak point, and does cause a seam in the phone screen.
One of the big problems of the Z Flip was how tight the screen pushed together when closed. Either dirt in a pocket, or if it fell onto a sandy or dirt-filled surface, could easily collect particles that ultimately get into the hinge and scratch the screen.
Z Flip 5 and Fold 5 introduced a new hinge that could counter the dust and dirt problem, as long as the screen is fully closed.
And then there is water. The fold is water resistant, but not water proof. So don’t take it in the shower, and be very careful when using by the pool.
An iPhone 14 can be dropped into 19 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. I’ve even heard some cases where they were recovered from larger bodies of water and still worked without issue.
And never take a phone into the dead sea without a waterproof jacket case. That is just way too much sea salt.
Any water that can make me float without issue, you probably don’t want any electronics in there.
If you like all glass screens, then foldable technology might not work for you. These screens are glass, but they have a PET plastic protector so the fold doesn’t have a splice in it.
It’s not to say that couldn’t change. Corning has developed an ultra-thin glass solution commercially available. With Gorilla Glass (which is chemically strengthened glass), we could see the physics change in the next 5 years.
Samsung does have Gorilla glass on their phones, but it’s protecting the camera lenses, and the new Flex Window.
So now the next question – is this a fad, or a need?
A report from IDC says people are desiring the foldable technology. 7.1 million units were shipped in 2021, doubled to 14.2 million in 2022, and expected to be at around 30 million by 2025.
It could be more. That is, if the technology changes and prices go down. Also if other players get in the game
Motorola revived their popular RAZR line because of the foldable screen. I had a RAZR before my first iPhone. The RAZR+ is impressive, but doesn’t have the nostalgic look or feel that I would want to choose that phone over the Z Flip.
Microsoft tried to get in the game with their Surface Duo device. This was 2 separate screens that folded out like a book. Alas, in May of this year, and after 2 itterations, they decided to scrap the idea.
Lenovo has a laptop that is 2 screens. The Yoga book has a detachable keyboard to reveal the second screen. You can even leave the keyboard at home and type on the 2nd surface.
Now, when you do that, you loose some of the tactile feelings. You can get a screen to vibrate to say the button was recognized, but there are still a lot of people that want the clicky feel of a mechanical keyboard at their fingertips.
Back to the phone, I personally do like the idea of a smaller one in my pocket, and one that could fold out to a larger device. But when you lose length or width, you gain thickness.
The Z Flip opens to a 6.5 inch screen, and is .27 inches thick. When closed, the thickness more than doubles to .59 inches. The iPhone 14 – in comparison – is .30 inches.
*So is that a Z Flip in your pocket, or are you happy to see me?
Many don’t put their phones in their pockets. Purses, backpacks, folios, fanny packs – or Butt packs, or whatever you call those things. Some people will just set their phone down on a table before they would stuff in a pant pocket.
The bigger thing that people want in a phone is simply one thing that before 2005 wasn’t on most phones.
The camera is a big determining factor in phone purchases. And we’re not talking how many pixels, either. Factors like how does the camera work in low light? How fast will it focus in on a person?
If a person has darker skin, will it recognize them?
What will foldable devices give us in the future?
first of all, I’ve been talking a lot about foldables, but there is also the “Roll up” screen devices. This would be a phone that, if you pulled up on one edge, could reveal more screen space.
Roll-ups also have pros and cons – no real backing to the screen for your fingers to touch, and the same dust/dirt issues as a foldable. But a roll-up device would be relatively smaller when collapsed.
They just have to figure out where to put all the components to make the retractable screen work. As well as create a seamless large screen.
With that said, I haven’t talked too much about Apple getting into the folding game – which their official stance as of right now is “They are looking into an option”.
It would be no surprise that if Tim Cook was to walk on stage at WWDC 2024 and say “We’ll have a foldable option by next year”, people would sell their souls for the first ones.
That device would need to have a hinge that is fool proof, glass that doesn’t have the mid-seam, and possibly water-proof.
And the first one really doesn’t have to be a phone. It could be the iPad Mini fold – 8.3 inch screen that doubles? Even if the mini fold was 6.5 inches, that is a pretty nice iPad to use.
And will it fold, or will it unroll via a sliding case?
Production would also ramp up significantly, so manufacturing costs would start to go down.
That still doesn’t mean the phone price would go down, because this is a “desired” option.
Next year we’re geeking out over the Vision Pro. What if that folded in half? Would that make it easier to store and commute with?
Smaller. That’s the key word here. Foldable technology has been sought after for many years. From IBM Thinkpads that had Butterfly keyboards, to over the ear headphones that folded in upon themselves.
Imagine if books didn’t fold? How would you carry those around in your backpack?
There is no doubt that foldable phones offer a number of advantages over traditional smartphones. If the price comes down, we have more options, and the durability of the phones improve, we could all be talking about the next innovation:
Implanted in your body as a hand phone – doo doo doo doo