First reaching the mass market in 2018 with the Royole FlexPai, folding phones have come a long way in their short lifespans. As with any new technology, teething issues meant initial rates of adoption were limited by consumer reticence, but ongoing evolution has largely mitigated initial obstacles. Today, folding phones are seen as almost or just as reliable as traditional smartphones, making them a viable choice as upgrades or replacement devices.
According to an article by ZDNet, at the current rate, five percent of the total mobile market could be found in folding phones by 2023. In real terms, this could reflect 30 million active devices. Looking at these predictions, the question many consumers have is whether their next device should be one which offers folding capabilities. When have folding phones lives up to their potential, where could they be the most useful, and where might they fall short?
Perhaps the most immediately beneficial area where folding phones could prove useful is in business. In the digital age, Business engagement with the digital sphere, especially with technologies surrounding the internet, is a practical necessity. Over 140 million businesses use Facebook and its associated properties, and over 200 million Instagram users will visit at least one business profile every day.
Given the focus which modern social media has on mobile devices, this link illustrates an important bond between businesses and mobile internet use. There is a problem here, however, in other limitations which mobiles can imply with business interaction. Social media is relatively simple to navigate, even on a smaller mobile screen, but the same cannot be said for other business-related tasks such as long-form document editing.
This is an area where folding phones have excelled and will continue to show exemplary promise. The large visible area on these devices, combined with their better support for multitasking, could prove the final step in making widespread mobile business operations without a laptop plausible. As hardware and software suited to these systems only improve, this potential will only increase further.
With many different forms of entertainment available on folding phones, advantages can range from profound to minor or even non-existent. For a closer look at why, compare how folding phones operate for music, videos, video games, and online casino games.
Listening to music on current mobile phones, as a non-visual medium, will see no possible advantages from folding phones. Arguably, in many senses, music has already reached near peak potential, so further evolution isn’t really possible. To a lesser extent, this could be considered true of online casino games.
In the online casino sector, for example, even advanced modern games like live roulette and blackjack operate perfectly on mobile devices, making upgrades somewhat unnecessary. The classic and simplistic gameplay is suited to most mobile devices due to many of their ‘one-click’ gaming mechanisms. The same is true for classic puzzle games available on mobile, such as Two Dots, and idle tap games such as Cookies Inc and Almost a Hero, that also run of simplistic one-tap gameplay.
However, it might also be true that the larger screens of folding phones would prove more engaging for some users, or helpful for those with vision issues. The folding phone, for example, would allow players to literally expand the felt in front of them, which would allow for a more immersive experience overall. This would be beneficial to players of RPG and FPS games available on mobile, such as Fortnite, and even reimagined platform games such as Super Mario Run.
With regular videos and video games, however, the advantages of folding phones could be much more profound and universal. Watching videos on larger devices is inarguably more engaging, which could make YouTube, Sky TV, and other streaming services all the more appealing.
For video games, the advantages are born from both an increased viewing size, and the improved power which is possible from slightly thicker folding devices. More internal space means more room for hardware, and a larger screen means the ability to pick out targets more easily in certain games. Alongside a more engaging experience, as per the video example, this could give folding phone players an appreciable edge.
Ultimately, the final proportion of users who will turn to folding phones is unknown. At this moment, surveys performed on mobile users have placed a low emphasis on folding designs. According to Statista, only around 18% of users mark folding screens as their primary desire for new devices, compared to around 77% and 55% wanting longer battery life or a better camera respectively.
Taking into account former trends, it could also be that like with the iPhone, we’re waiting for one major popular device to open the door, despite not doing anything especially new. Though considerable promise has already been shown in the realms of business and entertainment, evolution along these lines is often fickle and unpredictable.
Most likely, tracking the real trend won’t be possible until at least the mid-’20s. That said, if any of the above uses seem like something that might interest you, then going down the folding route for your next update might prove an avenue worthy of contemplation. Whether or not folding devices replace traditional phones might be up for debate but, at this point, long-term coexistence seems all but guaranteed.