Chinese phone maker Huawei may be gunning for the “world’s first” foldable smartphone. The company reportedly plans to announce its foldable phone in November this year, according to Korean news outlet ETNews (via PhoneArena).
If the concept of a folding smartphone that could double a device’s screen real estate while keeping its footprint relatively small sounds familiar, that’s because electronics giant Samsung has been rumored to be working on the idea for the past few years.
Samsung Mobile president DJ Koh has even gone on the record to talk about the company’s plans for a foldable Galaxy phone, and has previously told reporters to expect a folding phone as early as this year. But according to the ETNews report, Huawei is hoping to beat its competitor.
Huawei, the world’s third-largest phonemaker, sorely needs a win against Samsung, the largest in total sales volume. Blowback from the US government over security concerns with Huawei products, especially its networking infrastructure equipment, has caused US carriers as well as major retailer BestBuy to yank their support. Australia blocked Huawei from working on its national broadband network. The company says that despite the turmoil, it has “earned the trust of our partners across the global value chain,” according to a Huawei spokesman.
For Huawei, a foldable phone win represents more than just a fresh frontier in a static industry. It represents the opportunity to beat out the world’s top players, even without the support of the all-important US market.
Technically we’ve already seen a modern folding phone, but not one that folds in on itself. In late 2017 ZTE released the Axon M, which has two screens and opens like a book to create the illusion of one extra-large screen. But the key distinction between the Axon M and the Huawei and Samsung concepts lie in the phone’s folding screen.
Samsung’s folding phone is expected to use its flexible OLED display tech. Meanwhile, Huawei will reportedly use flexible screens from LG Display, according to ETNews. This would theoretically allow the phone and its screen to fold outward or inward on itself, unlike the Axon M which relies on two separate rigid screens and a hinge.
A foldable design could also help phonemakers innovate new ways to use the device. The first brand to successfully define the foldable smartphone market will hold sway over early adopters looking to jump aboard the hottest trend.
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