Foldable phones are going to be commonplace before you know it. But what are they, what can they offer that regular phones currently don’t, and how will they impact how we consume and design websites?
What is a foldable smartphone?
The concept of the foldable smartphone is simple to explain, but harder to wrap your head around how it actually works. The quick version is that, until now, your phone has been based around an inflexible piece of glass with a LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) or OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) screen placed behind it.
The screen size is fixed, so part of the decision-making process when choosing a new smartphone is finding one that fits well in your hand and has a good compromise between size, weight and functionality.
Foldable smartphones are the next big thing. Following on from the technology developed with curved television displays, foldable smartphones use a similar type of display that not only curves in the middle, but can be bent over 180 degrees to fold in over itself. This means that you can turn your smartphone into a tablet and back again like magic. If you’ve ever been stuck trying to find a phone that’s small enough to carry around easily but has a screen large enough to comfortably read a book or watch a video on, this is the technology you have been waiting for.
When will foldable smartphones hit the market?
Get your wallets ready because foldable phones are ready to hit the market very soon. Samsung and Huawei have models coming in the next few months, and Motorola are bringing back their iconic Razr with a foldable phone that resembles the classic proto-smartphone of the 2000’s.
LG are preparing their model for release shortly and, of course, Apple are rumoured to have their own iFold in development. It should also be noted that newcomer Royole have already brought their foldable FlexPai smartphone to retail a few months ago, but early build quality and software concerns have limited its appeal. Still, it’s an exciting promise of the future that lays ahead.
What do foldable smartphones mean for the mobile web?
Until now, web designers have been working with three basic variations of website design: desktop (your home desktop or laptop computer), tablet (a large-format single screen device with touch screen controls) or mobile (most commonly your phone). Screen dimensions change with each person’s choice of device, but they are more or less the same screen aspect ratios and we can design web sites and develop applications for them knowing what to expect.
Foldable phones change that dynamic. Now we need to not only make web applications that look good and convey information quickly on a mobile device, we need to do so not knowing if the user is in phone mode or tablet mode as they can switch easily between the two. Therefore, design and functionality considerations will have to be made.
This will also have an impact on how we perceive the mobile web. Having devices that can literally transform from mobile to tablet view means that analytics will have to take this into account when reporting on how people are consuming websites while on the move.
However these concerns shake out, we are sure that foldable phones will offer enough advantages over current devices to make the transition worthwhile. And while the first generation of foldables appear slow and clunky, future iterations will offer smoother and faster performance.
At iFactory, we’re excited to see what the future brings, no matter what shape it comes in. Talk to iFactory today about how we can bring your website or application to every device imaginable.