How Do Foldable Smartphones Work?

How Do Foldable Smartphones Work?

Our needs from a phone have changed drastically from just calling and texting to becoming our pocket-sized, office cum entertainment centre. With Apple working on the foldable iPhone screen prototypes, let’s see how smartphones would further evolve in this decade, with flexible displays.

Crux of the Matter

What Is A Foldable Phone?
It is a phone with a folding form factor. This means it uses a rigid-flex printed circuit board (PCB), which integrates elements from both hardboard and flexible circuits. So, the rigid layer carries the bulk of the components, while the flexible layers make the hinge work between the two screens.

Display Material Used
The foldable smartphones use flexible, plastic OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) displays instead of gorilla glass displays, as the former is capable of sustaining the bend radius required for bending. 

Types Of Foldable Displays

  • The display that wraps around to the back of the device when folded. Eg: Royole FlexPai and Huawei Mate X.
  • A booklet-like display, with an inner screen, which is larger + folded and a cover screen, which lets the user interact with the device without opening it. Eg: Samsung Galaxy Fold.
  • Double folding display, wherein the left and right portions of the screen can be folded to transform into a compact device. Eg: Xiaomi Mi Mix Flex.
  • Swivelling Display is a dual-screen that includes a swivel screen, which can rotate clockwise in 90°, along with the second screen behind it. Eg: LG’s WING swivel.

What About Rollable Phones?
The screen in these smartphones shall behave like a paper on a scroll, actuated by the user’s input as intended. Eg: OPPO X 2021. Also, LG and TCL’s respective rolling phones announced at CES 2021.

Problems Faced by Consumers
Eg: One Fold, Vertical Flip screens – Samsung Z-Flip’s advertised glass screen scratched like plastic and Motorola Razr’s units got easily broken by users.

  • The Motorola Razr was a series of flip mobile phones by Motorola. On November 14, 2019, Motorola again revived the Razr brand, this time for an Android-based foldable smartphone styled after the original Razr, which carried the same name.
  • The first-generation iPhone was announced by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs on January 9, 2007. Since then Apple has annually released new iPhone models and iOS updates. As of November 1, 2018, more than 2.2 billion iPhones had been sold.
  • With the first iteration of the Samsung Fold, there were multiple issues that reviewers encountered, like dust getting into the hinge and damaging the display, nicks and dings on the soft plastic, and the accidental removal of a thin display layer that looked like (but was not) a screen protector. As a result, Samsung had to delay the commercial release of the device and collect back all the initial units.