Foldable telephones and laptops have a head start on CES 2020
Three technology companies have followed Samsung’s leadership this week with their own folding devices at CES 2020.
Dell, Lenovo and TCL all follow in the aftermath of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold smartphone, which was released last September.
The £ 1,800 Galaxy Fold, which folds down a central hinge in the screen, was attacked by technical hitches in the run-up to the global launch.
Samsung admitted that it had hurried the commercialization of the next device reports of broken displays after several days of use when released to reviewers in April.
Samsung claims that the next month will reveal a more sustainable version of the Galaxy Fold, fellow tech companies are now trying to beat the company in its own game with folding displays.
Huawei and Motorola have also released folding phones; now Dell, Lenovo and TCL have unveiled more foldable concepts at CES that can be launched this year.
The foldable TCL phone concept opens in the middle to reveal a 7.2-inch plastic display
“It is striking that folding devices are becoming increasingly popular because early kinks have been eliminated,” said Phil Elford, head of technology at Argos.
“TCL teased a folding phone that looks like a great movie viewing device on the go and we’re very excited to see what’s coming from this emerging brand, which is ready to shake things up in the phone market.”
In the meantime, Lenovo is proud of what it describes as ‘the first foldable PC’, while Dell embraces the ‘natural evolution of the PC’ with its own prototype.
Let’s take a closer look.
You may have never heard of the Chinese electronics maker TCL, which is best known for its televisions.
But the company has caught CES ‘attention with a foldable telephone concept with four cameras.
The prototype, which does not yet have an official name, is opened and reveals a 7.2-inch flexible touchscreen, smaller than the 7.3 of the Galaxy Fold.
TCL is known for high-quality products at reasonable prices – meaning that their folding device is probably cheaper than the nearly $ 2,000 Galaxy Fold
TCL has also announced another high-end 5G phone that costs no more than $ 500.
Because the company is known for its high-quality products at affordable prices, fans are optimistic that the foldable TCL phone will sell much lower than the $ 1,980 of the Galaxy Fold.
The unnamed folding device is said to have no screen on the outside and is still in a prototype phase.
TCL has devised the technology itself and is used to help develop phones for other companies, also under the Blackberry brand.
The foldable telephone concept uses its own trademark ‘DragonHinge’, which creates ‘a mechanical housing’ for folding and bending.
The modified flexible AMOLED display panels have been developed by sister company China Star Optoelectronics Technology (CSOT).
Chinese tech giant TCL, which took over the BlackBerry brand in 2016, is developing a flexible phone that can bend around your wrist to become a pseudo-smartwatch
Rumor has it that the company already has at least five folding devices in the making, including two tablets, two smartphones and a type of wearable that revolves around a wrist like a smartwatch.
One of their prototypes, unveiled in October last year, folds in two places to form a “Z” shape and is straightened to form a 10-inch screen when it is fully opened.
A CES 2020 TCL did not state when or whether those devices would be released.
Dell has revealed two folding concept devices at CES 2020: one with a dual screen that folds down a central pivot and another that folds down the screen itself.
The Concept Duet is a notebook consisting of two 13.4-inch screens that can be folded up.
With the extra screen, users can host meeting calls, check emails and take notes at the same time.
But even more exciting is the Concept Ori, which is folded down in the middle of a single screen, reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy Fold smartphone.
Concept Ori is a folding device with a 13-inch screen that folds in the center of the screen itself, just like the Samsung Galaxy Fold smartphone
The foldable screen can offer two separate screens or a large screen, ideal for watching movies or reading articles in vertical mode.
“You can switch between the one-screen experience with stunning images, your favorite apps and great pen experience; or a two-screen experience opening new avenues for multitasking and notetaking – and everything in between, “the company says.
Both Concept Ori and Duet are, as the name suggests, concept designs and Dell has no concrete plans to make them available.
PC maker Lenovo brings folding technology to a new laptop, which it describes on the world’s first folding PC.
The ThinkPad X1 Fold has a 13.3-inch foldable OLED screen and comes with a Bluetooth wireless keyboard.
It can be used as a tablet when it is flat or folded to create different viewing angles for working or viewing video.
Users can connect to a video conference on the upright part of the screen, while they have a spreadsheet or word processing document open in the lower half.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold (pictured above) becomes “the first foldable PC in the world” when it is released mid-2020
The company has designed the device so that a small opening is just large enough to store the external Bluetooth keyboard when the device is closed.
The screen itself is actually a mix of six different layers of plastic and metal frame material, designed to make the screen both flexible and durable.
The fold is built around a four-point hinge system that connects two carbon fiber plates.
To prevent bulging or kinking of the screen, the hinge is designed to flatten both sides of the screen when it is fully extended.
The fold is designed around its own four-point hinge mechanism that flattens the screen when it is fully opened, so that the screen does not bubble or warp
The durable plastic screen actually consists of six different layers of plastic and metal brackets to make it both flexible and scratch-resistant
Because of the unique thin housing, Lenovo has developed a modified cooling system that combines a thin fan, a heat sink and a heat diffuser.
The Fold has a battery life of 11 hours and weighs only 2.2 kilos.
Lenovo plans to start selling the Fold by mid-2020, starting at around $ 2,500 (£ 1,900).
Other folding devices
Other companies also jump aboard the folding ship; According to reports, LG applied for several patents for folding devices last year.
With the G8X ThinQ, LG is entering an increasingly busy market for phones with unique screens, including Samsung’s Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X
GALAXY FOLD SPECIFICATIONS
Starting at $ 1,980
7.3-inch main display with Infinity Flex technology
4.6-inch outer screen when folded
512 gb Universal Flash Storage 3.0
7 nanometer processor
12 GB RAM
Three rear-facing cameras
Two forward-facing cameras on the main display, one in the collapsed state
App continuity technology to run three apps simultaneously
Comes in cosmic black, Martian Green, Astro Blue and Space Silver
The company has also just released a $ 699 phone that comes with a connectable second screen for a dual screen experience.
But LG fans will have to wait for an LG device that folds down the screen itself instead of a central metal pivot point.
Meanwhile, Huawei began shipping its Mate X in China in November.
The phone has a foldable screen that can be used in two configurations.
When open, the display spans 8 inches and looks closer to a tablet, and when closed, it folds itself for a more traditional-looking 6.6-inch display.
Motorola also brought back its pocket-sized flip phone from the nineties last year with an updated version that flips down the center of the screen.
The Mate X will try to avoid the errors documented through the select release of the Galaxy Fold by Samsung
It will be on sale in the US for $ 1500 for the first time in December, while pre-orders in the UK have just begun
The reinvented Razr flip mobile has a 6.2-inch screen that bends in two to be closed in the same way as older ‘clamshell’ handsets.
Following the enormous worldwide interest in the Galaxy Fold, last year Samsung also unveiled a concept for a device that flips down.
The device – which is said to be officially unveiled at the company’s Unpacked event in February – bends vertically like a clam shell as opposed to horizontally like a book.
Samsung Galaxy Fold
The original folding device from Samsung – the Galaxy Fold – was years in the making from the first idea and the patent phase.
It has a foldable hinge in the center of the screen, so users can switch from a 4.6-inch display on the outside to a 7.3-inch display on the inside once it is unfolded.
On the left is an image of how Samsung’s current Galaxy Fold collapses, while an image on the right shows an unnamed device that folds vertically
The technology is inspired by watch mechanisms to provide symmetrical movement on both sides of the folding joint.
The long-awaited Galaxy Fold was released in September 2019, following technical issues that halted the global launch, including reports of defective displays after only a few days of use when the device was released to reviewers in April.
Part of the damage was caused by impact on the upper and lower exposed parts of the hinge, the company said.
Among the problems were dust and particles that found their way under the display and that caused bumps and stains and also disrupted the hinge mechanism.
Samsung President Young Sohn told the press in December that the company had sold a million Galaxy Fold units since its release in September.
However, the company later returned to this claim and said that Sohn confused the original sales target of the tech giant with real numbers.
The company predicted that the device would sell 500,000 units by the end of 2019, although the official sales figures for the device have yet to be revealed.
Rumors suggest that at its Unpacked event next month, Samsung could unveil a new version of its Galaxy Fold smartphone – although some suggest that the Galaxy Fold 2 can take a completely different form from its predecessor.