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Folding Phones: Are They Coming Back?

Just when we thought we had said our final goodbyes to the generation of flip phones, are they now making a comeback? It appears this may be the case, based on what developers of smartphone technology are telling us; however, this next phase of phones that “fold” is said to be bigger and better than before.

Now being referred to as “foldable” phones, or “phablets,” this new style of pocket-sized devices open and close similar to a book. When folded, the cover screen still functions like a typical smartphone that most of us use today. However, unfold the phone and inside you will discover a second screen that essentially turns the phone into a tablet-like device, or even a pocket-size computer, depending on how you choose to utilize it. Here, you can watch TV, read, utilize apps, and perform other tasks similar to your other devices. When the phone is folded, it reverts back to a compact device that fits inside your pocket or purse.
Smartphone developers have been working on various innovative concepts for this new technology as they try to determine what consumers want and need in a smartphone, while establishing a practical and seamless experience for smartphone users. Numerous companies have come up with prototypes of this new generation of smartphones but have not continued on with them – the reasons why are the challenges and compromises that would have to be made in the design of the smartphone that ultimately impacts the user experience.

For example, the double screen means there would be more strain on the phone’s battery – this would most likely be a huge red flag for consumers as battery life is a top priority when purchasing a smartphone. Another challenge is that few smartphone apps are optimized to utilize the screen space on a phone with dual screens – for developers of phone apps, this could be a problematic issue to contend with. And of course, there is the matter of artificial intelligence, which is supposed to make your smartphone even more efficient by recognizing your mobile habits and enhancing the way you interact with your smartphone.

Some challenges that smartphone developers say they have been able to overcome include the ability to fuse ultra-thin screens onto a foldable device, along with updates to the user interface that help maximize the new dual-screen size. Plus, new functionality allows users to run multiple apps simultaneously.

Is the demand for this new iteration of smartphone technology there, or are consumers finally in a place where they are satisfied with their current smartphone and won’t see a need to upgrade to this new technology? Time will tell if consumers are as eager as smartphone companies to move on to something new.

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