In February of this year from two manufacturers demonstrated smartphones foldable c a difference of only a few days. First, on a separate event shot at Samsung with its Galaxy Fold, and then at the exhibition Mobile World Congress-2019 has revealed its new Huawei — Mate model X. This is not the first coming of the bendable displays, the previous was unsuccessful. Fixed mistakes?

In 2013, for the first time LG and Samsung released smartphones with flexible displays. LG Flex screen bend a few millimeters, which allowed him, for example, to bounce when dropped. Galaxy Round had a display that resembled the cross section of the cylinder. LG came at least to retail sales, but both of them did not become popular. Innovation is not enough for the commercial success of the invention would give the user new functionality.

A smartphone or tablet?

Why do new experiments with bendable (in this case folding) screens and it took 4 years? Undoubtedly, evolved display technology, but perhaps more important was the market situation.

In 2015 smartphone sales have ceased to grow and even 2017 a decrease in the number of units sold. The tablet market, which Apple launched in 2010, also drops the last four years. In such circumstances, it is natural to expect from market leaders attempt to revive sales new functional devices. In 2017, Apple added facial recognition to the iPhone. Global sales of smartphones this is not spurred. But this year, Samsung and Huawei presented its emerging new products that at first glance seem a breath of fresh air in the world standard equipment.

Galaxy Fold folded resembles the phones of past eras — a display diagonal of 4.6-inch seems small because of the huge framework. In addition, the device, like on the side of a sandwich, it can hardly be called subtle. Huawei Mate X looks more attractive due to thinner frames and smaller thickness. The dimensions of the device in the unfolded and folded States are close. Samsung diagonal in “tablet” mode 7.3 inches (aspect ratio is 4.2:3). From Huawei — a diagonal of 8 inches due to thinner frames, and in the folded state the user can choose any of the two resulting displays of 6.6 or 6.4 inches. A big difference the two machines is that the Galaxy Fold looks like a purse, the main screen is hidden, and the device of the Chinese company formed “outside”.

Devices occupy an intermediate position between smartphones with large screens and tablets. Magic happens when you fold or pull out the tablet. In this regard, Huawei has won: although she announced your product two days later, but the exhibition was allowed to hold in your hand and to see how the emerging smartphones. As a result, journalists around the world have shown how the magic works Huawei. Samsung their devices were kept under glass.

Even Apple couldn’t stay away. Formally, the company made no announcements, but in these days was discovered a patent application kupertinovtsy that described the folding screen is heated. It needs to ensure healing of microcracks. However, the existence of a patent does not guarantee the production of such devices.

Folding devices provide not only spectacular appearance, but also unique opportunities in terms of multitasking. For example, the main screen can be kept open three Windows simultaneously.

Cons flexibility

The market is getting smaller, require you to start a new “wave of upgrades” — like the one that prompted millions of people to switch from “dialers”, to full-fledged smartphones. Flexible machines in this sense, it can mark the very brink, go for which over the years, will want a growing number of users. That is why for businesses it is important to secure a championship, thereby evolving from a pack of similar devices. But for this we have to go for a serious compromise.

Non-obvious design advantages to turn a smartphone into a tablet: the Samsung expanded only slightly more modern “phablet” with their 6— or-more-inch screens. The same can be said in relation to the Mate of X, with the only proviso that even in the folded state can see the “100” — to maintain an active correspondence, edit photos, watch videos, etc. according to the characteristics, the small frame of the device provides comfortable work.

If Samsung decided to sacrifice appearance and usability of the device folded, Huawei had to put on the “back” side from all the camera to make a selfie, have to turn the device, which is not very convenient to do with one hand.

Flexible screen cannot be protected by tempered glass, which means greater susceptibility to scratches. Therefore, the option Samsung with the folding screen, “inside”, as noted by The Verge, much safer for everyday use. But before you put in your pocket Mate X will have to think again if there was anything sharp.

In fairness, we note that when folding the Galaxy Fold is a gap between the sides of the screen — this can adversely affect mechanical reliability.

The main drawback of both models is the price. If Fold Galaxy Samsung asks for “only” $1980, for Mate X will have to pay and did almost $2600. Yes, externally, the machines are impressive, but will buy them if someone other than the geeks who are able to forgive any shortcomings for the new technology? Most likely, sales of both devices will be in the thousands — imperceptible magnitude on the background of the billion smartphones sold in the world every year.

A lot of them

Pioneers get credit, but not always profit. With the current price bar on the Galaxy Fold and Mate X count on the massive popularity of the models is not necessary, but competitors are not asleep.

In the “flexible” race may soon get involved and Apple. However, the company in this case will perform the role of the pursuer that little fit with her image as the “first” and “best”.

Given the price tags of Samsung, Huawei, Apple will not be able to take a significant share of Americans are unlikely to be cheaper, but they have wider ranks of loyal fans, ready if necessary to wait a year or two. For example, NFC chips appeared only in iPhone 6 and still the Apple smartphones do not support all their possibilities.

Price competition can be Chinese. Especially on “flexible” smartphones are major players such as Motorola (owned by Lenovo), Xiaomi, Oppo and others.

The premium segment of expensive smartphones will continue, but Chinese companies have shown outstanding ability to create analogues at lower prices. The probability that flexible smartphones of Chinese (post Huawei) will be able to boast a more attractive price, and probably a new experience with such devices.

Diehard market

Samsung and Huawei turned first to the leading players of the smartphone market (by number of sold devices), and then in the major trendsetters.

New companies are impressive, despite the controversies and limitations in the usage scenarios. But Galaxy Fold and Mate X showed the main thing: a new vision of the future, which, judging by the interest the other players, will be realized in the near future.

Would a flexible smartphone the same common as the modern “inflexible” machine, or give way to new form factors (e.g. wrist wearable electronics), decide buyers. But now a new devices called the desire to hold their hands, both literally and figuratively, to discover the world of smartphones. And it already half of success.

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