Flip-Phone Future

The Android Dev Summit is upon us, and it is where we see the future unfold (pun intended)! With the (rushed?) Royole FlexPai and the newly announced Samsung device (taking its sweet time) leading the charge, it seems that foldable phones are inevitable, at least in the Android world for now (if it works Apple will get in on it in maybe 5years). Phone screens are getting closer and closer to the edges and the only logical step now is to go beyond the edge, for the screen to curve and continue to flow around the whole device. The Samsung S-series of phones already has the screen curving to the sides, but I'm afraid that's just not enough for the techies of the future. Folding phones though - It’s a great concept, and the possibilities for phone design just got a little bit more exciting.

Everybody is too focused on creating a phone that could expand to a tablet-sized device. This could spell disaster for the already dwindling tablet sales across all manufacturers. Just imagine a Galaxy Note unfolding into a bigger phone and still have the S-Pen to go along with it. Apps aside, it could be a potential iPad killer (wow, that's some assumption!). Still, I think it’s also a good idea to go the other way in terms of the size of the device, and what better way to implement this new technology than on a flip-phone.

A modern flip-phone with this new folding screen technology could be what's missing in this ecosystem of gadgets. Aside from the "phone-tablet" combo specs, manufacturers and designers can design to a "phone-pager" combo instead, for lack of a better term. The advantages of such a device can be useful for the more active kind of people who aren't into watching videos and are mostly into smartphone-basics. Still big enough to decently watch videos, and compose email, it can shrink vertically rather than horizontally. When you think about it, the screen area-size folded is close to that of the iPhone SE but more square. Think of it like a modern take on the pager - a small device that shows messages and basic notifications on the screen. When it opens up, it would be around the same size as the Pixel 3 XL. Below are some concept 3D renderings of what we could do with such a design.

FF_01

With this particular concept, there is no front-facing camera. There is no need for it because there is a screen where the back-camera would be and this would help you frame those selfies. To open the phone, you can simply squeeze the sides (much like the squeeze-function on Pixel3) and get into "answer mode", and to fully open it up, after squeezing, you can simply swipe your finger on the back - kinda like pulling down the control panel on Android. Considering we're using fingerprint sensors under the glass, this kind of control is ideal for the modern flip-phone. The folded mode of the phone is a throwback to the pager-days. It features a small screen (about half of the screen size of modern phones) which displays notifications and other small info, and basically whatever you feel like putting on there.

FF_03

With the release of the Palm’s newest device, a phone for your phone as some would say, its clear that there is also a market out there looking for a minimalist and smaller gadget. Palm wasn’t the first to introduce a minimalist phone or something similar too. Nokia for one released a modern 3310, a shoutout to the days when all you needed was Snake to pass the day. They’re all small, easy to hold, and practical. Also looking at the Apple Watch and other wearables that have cellular and LTE connectivity, people are now comfortable with the idea of having a small device with them. Sometimes you just want the convenience of something compact too.

Whether this will just be a fad, or we'll eventually go into tablets that opens up to laptops, foldable screens are officially here! Can we also make foldable big-screen TV's? In case I have guests y'know...

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