Samsung Foldable: Unfolding the Future or Flipping Back to the Past?

Nyla Upal, Staff Writer, Photographer

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has been described as a “device unlike any other,” which it definitely is, but consumers are skeptical whether or not they are even necessary. 

For many years a phone with a foldable touchscreen was a distant idea for the future, but in September, Samsung released its Galaxy Fold, but it isn’t what many expected and honestly unnecessary. 

In late 2018, a Chinese company called Royole released its FlexPai, which was not as developed as many of these phones now are, but was one of the first foldable phones. The screen was thick and the fold wasn’t very smooth. 

The new Galaxy Fold opens up like a book, having a small screen on the outside and a much larger screen on the inside. One problem with this is that there is a seam in the middle which is not as level as the rest. The inside screen has a 7.3 inch diagonal and the outside has a 4.6 inch diagonal, about the size of the iPhone SE. This phone isn’t much like a phone but more like a tablet. On this tablet screen, you can open up to three apps at the same time. 

The Galaxy Fold also has six cameras because of all of its sides. This is also quite an odd move, considering many of them are repeats of other cameras. 

Following Apple’s controversial move, Samsung has eliminated the headphone jack in this phone to promote its wireless earbuds. The price of these wireless earbuds are quite steep ($130), and have to be purchased on top of the $1,980 phone price. This price is almost double that of Apple’s new iPhone 11 Pro.

In order to use wired earbuds a user will have to get an extra adapter or a special type of earbuds that plug into the charging port. 

Huawei, another large Chinese phone company, is also working on manufacturing a foldable phone to compete with Samsung. The release of its Mate X has been delayed until this month. It has a different folding design from the Galaxy that looks more appealing. Instead of having two separate screens when opened, it has just one that folds over on the outside rather than folding inward. The full tablet has a diagonal of 8 inches, and the outside screen is 6.6 inches, giving it a larger screen than the Samsung. This matches current trends in phone screen size, looking more like the iPhone XS Max. 

Instead of having the cameras cover up the screen, the Mate X has a sidebar for  the cameras, buttons and charging port. This phone seems to have a better design than the Samsung, but the reviews once it is released will determine its true functionality.

The Chinese company Xiaomi is also developing a foldable phone that is quite different from the others. The Xiaomi Mi Mix Flex folds like an early 21st century flip phone. The full open screen is 6.2 inches, and it is three inches when closed. This phone is a foldable phone, but instead of opening to be a tablet it folds to be more compact, while offering the touch screen technology that was lacking in the flip phones of the early 2000s. 

Most people say that having a foldable phone seems quite useless, and they don’t actually want them. A survey done by USA Today revealed that only around 18% of phone users are interested in a foldable phone. Considering the high prices for the foldable phones that are already released, these phones don’t really seem to be worth the price. 

Once cell phones were released, people moved on from foldable flip phones to solid ones with one screen. By making phones foldable phones again, it seems that adding a moving part that will create a point of weakness in the phone’s construction is not a good idea.  Foldable phones could be either a revolutionary idea or a failure, and so far consumers don’t seem willing to make the flip.