Foldable phones are yet to go mainstream, but they have generated immense interest among tech enthusiasts. After Samsung Galaxy Fold, several other foldable phones are expected to be launched such as Motorola Razr, Huawei Mate X, Energizer Mobile Power Max and TCL foldable phone. Reports indicate that Xiaomi, Oppo and LG are also working on their respective prototypes.
So, what makes foldable phones work? How can the screen be folded thousands of times without breaking or developing creases? Well, the secret of foldable phones is an advanced flexible display technology based on OLED screens. Short for Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED), these displays are different from LCD screens that are commonly used in most electronic devices.
While LCD displays require a glass or semi-glass screen to project light, OLED displays have pixels printed on the screen itself. OLED screen pixels are printed directly onto a thin layer of plastic, which can emit light on their own. This allows it to function as a display screen, all while providing flexibility, as needed in foldable phones.
Other things that make foldable phones work include the unique structure of the device and customized software. Most of these devices rely on hinges that are lightweight, yet sturdy and durable enough to withstand the repetitive folding and unfolding. Software also plays an important role, as it provides seamless continuity in display and functionality, as the user shifts from fold to unfold and vice-versa.
OLED display technology has been in development since 2011. Samsung and Royole appear to have taken the lead in this segment, but other tech companies are catching up fast. At present, foldable phones are quite pricey and out of reach of most consumers. Also, the technology is in development stages, which means that people are likely to come across bugs and issues when using foldable phones.
One of the most common problems is that foldable phones are susceptible to scratches and smudges. Unlike normal phones that come with Gorilla Glass protection, foldable phones don’t have any glass on them. As they are entirely made from plastic, they can get scratches very easily. However, the advantage is that they won’t shatter like the screen of a standard phone.
Foldable phones are expected to be widely used in the future, as they combine the benefits of both smartphones and tablets. High cost of manufacturing OLED screens and delicate nature of foldable phones are some issues that need to be addressed by manufacturers. If these problems are resolved, foldable phones can transform the way we interact in the digital realm.