Why Samsung And Motorola Are Bringing Back Foldable Phones


It’s a conversation piece. Anytime you ever pulled that on out
of your pocket, it’s gonna be instant like, ‘whoa, like, that’s cool.’ Remember how satisfying it was to flick
your Razr phone open or how pocketable it was? Well, the best assets from flip
phones are making a comeback in smartphones.I do want it to
fold more than once. For$1900 bucks? Samsung brought folding phones
to the U.S. in2019 with the Galaxy Fold and Motorola
followed suit with its 2020 Razr. Samsung now has a second folding phone
in its lineup: The Galaxy Z Flip. They allow you to take a device that
would normally be big, like, say, your iPhone – you’ve complain that the screen
is getting too big – and close that into a smaller device that
should theoretically be more pocketable. Companies like Royole, Huawei andXiaomi
all have folding smartphones available or in the pipeline. And even Apple is speculated to
have one in the works. But why? Why has the smartphone
industry brought this form factor back from the dead?The reasons that
manufacturers are bringing out folding phones aren’t necessarily because consumers are
saying, ‘I want these and I need these.’And at a price point of
well over$1000 with few models holding up to durability tests, who
are these phones really for? After 10 years of rectangle phone,
it’s kind of like, ‘whoa, there’s something new out there.’It’s not for, say,
your mom or your dad or just some regular Joe. Folding phones are ridiculously
profitable right now. There was a lot of
satisfaction to folding phones. They were compact and fun to use. But since we’ve gravitated to larger,
non-flip phones, our options have been more or less these
thin, glass and metal rectangles. On one hand, consumers have issues that
they see that smartphones are just too big when they want to carry
around their pockets, but when they open them up, they enjoy
a larger smartphone. And then the folks who already
are comfortable with a larger smartphone, they want to be able to do more
on these smartphones by unfolding them to turn them into a tablet. That could be one of the reasons why
the form factor is making a return. But to get to where we
are today with folding smartphones, two technologies had to be fine-tuned: the
hinge and the flexible OLED display. The Kyocera Echo gave users the
first look at a commercially available, dual-screen smartphone in 2011. It used a patented pivot hinge to lift
the top screen up and away from the bottom screen, creating a device that
looked like a really, really small tablet. The phone was not well liked by
reviewers, but it paved the way for companies to create innovative hinges, which
is a key component in folding smartphones.Normally with a hinge, especially
back in the early 2000s, late 90s, you didn’t really have to
worry about much except for maybe keeping the phone closed and
not getting anything in it. Today you have to worry
about a lot more. Then in 2013, Samsung showed off its
Youm concept – a flexible OLED display that was plastic instead of glass. LCD has so many different layers attached to
it and some of them can’t be bent, they can’t be flexible. But with OLED displays, as long as
the little diodes inside of the screen are airtight, you can put them in, you
know, anything you want as long as, you know, the connections
are broken inside. The company later used this technology
in its Galaxy S6 Edge smartphone, curving the OLED display around
the corner of the screen. This is the technology it then
developed into its folding smartphones. The number one most expensive technology
on this entire device is the foldable displays, and as companies
like Samsung get better at manufacturing them and manufacturing them at
lower cost, they can then take of lower costs to the consumers. Thanks to these advancements, there are
many folding phones on the market today. The Royole Flex Pai was
technically the first folding smartphone to hit the consumer market. But the Samsung Galaxy Fold was
the phone that stole the show. And it proved that you can actually
have foldable screens that are out there in the market. On the other hand,
I didn’t like the size of it. It felt weird, like a square, so it
was really useful for me, although it has a really solid
following among enthusiasts. Motorola also became a contender
with its revitalized Razr phone. That phone in particular drew excitement,
thanks in part to nostalgia. If you look at my last video, like,
you know, I did the same durability test I always do, but now that
video has, like, 7 million views. Now Samsung has its second folding smartphone –
The Galaxy Z Flip – which the company touted as the
first phone with bendable glass. Every time you fold it, you’re not
just spending glass, you’re bending the laws of physics. It wasn’t even close to that. It was almost the same exact screen
that they had on their previous version. So, I mean, that part
was a little bit annoying. See those two technologies, the hinges
and the flexible screens that were so crucial in the popularization of folding
phones are also the two things that screw up the most. My tests are kind of, you know, they’re
extreme and they kind of like show the potential damages and like point out
what people should be aware of. And like with the screen that’s off, like,
you know, you do have to take care of it more
than your average phone. Plastic or otherwise ‘soft screens’ along
with dust prone hinges have wreaked havoc on these phones. The Samsung Galaxy Fold was riddled
with display issues when it was released.And our first one broke, for
example, and we weren’t really sure if a second one would, even after our
testing period after about a week or so.The company claimed users were removing
the protective layer on top of the screen, which destroys
the delicate OLED underneath. Samsung had to pause production, delay
the release date, and make some changes to the phone. When the updated phone was released,
it was better, but still delicate. But I had no problems, right? But four or five very influential people
did, which I respect that they did, but I didn’t have those issues. The Motorola Razr revealed a new
hinge that looped the flexible outlet inside the hinge, instead of creating
a crease like other folding smartphones. But the hinge ran into
some trouble when Zach Nelson tested its endurance against
dust and debris. The screen has not broken yet, but the
sound of the hinge is more like nails on a chalkboard at this point
and not as much buttery smoothness like it was before.The only weak point would
be, you know, getting dust inside that hinge and then also
softness of the screen. But other then that, like,
it’s a really cool. But like Zack said,
his tests are extreme. I’m sorry, I am not going to scratch my
keys or my coins or that open razor blade that I keep in my purse
or my pocket on this phone. And then there’s the hefty cost
to consider, at least right now. The Galaxy Fold costs$1980. The Motorola Razr costs
one hundred $1500. And the Galaxy Z Flip costs $1380. You know, throughout history, people buy
flashy cars just because they’re flashy. And so now there’s flashy phones
and you buy them just because they’re cool and flashy. So we’ve developed the technology. We’ve prototyped it and developed it
into a pretty extensive lineup of phones available to consumers. Now what?We’ve gotten into a situation
where smartphones, aside from maybe the photography adders that have been
put in there, aren’t very exciting. Initially, I was like, ‘well, why are
they kind of making folding phones?’ But then as I’ve gotten into it,
like it’s actually a really cool form factor. And the more I see them,
the more I kind of want one. With decreasing global smartphone shipments,
it’s very likely these companies are trying to
spice up the market. These shipments grew steadily from 2009
to 2016, but since then, shipments have been steadily declining. You could say you want to be
a lot of excitement about this device. It is a real radical new design
against the backdrop of the smartphone market, where overall growth has
really ground to a halt. For Samsung, it’s the hype that’s
the real payoff, not the profits. Samsung and Motorola have not released
sales figures for their folding phones, but the Galaxy Fold was expected
to sell 400,000 to 500,000 units in 2019. When compared to JP Morgan’s iPhone
11 shipment forecast of184 million units in the same year, Samsung’s
Fold is not a financial contender. But Moorehead says these folding phones
are still profitable because they cost more than flagship phones. If I look at the bill of materials,
even though I said the folding display is the most expensive device, these
companies are making a killing. And I think that’s good for the
industry because it’s really hard to make profits on smartphones. Even Apple filed patents for some
folding technology, but nothing has been announced yet. If Apple did hit the
market with a folding phone, it could change the trajectory of
the folding phone future. I think if it introduced the foldable display
and it was ready and did a good job at it, it might help
boost the adoption of foldable products simply because it’s Apple and it
has a lot of customers. Almost 40 percent of Galaxy
Fold customers were ex-iPhone customers. And that’s really hard to do. But there were some important changes
that need to be made first. First, I think they need to be thinner
so that when you fold them down, they’re nice and thin in
your pocket and not bulky. Second, the price needs to come down
and I think that will eventually happen as manufacturing ramps up and
as they’re able to perfect the process. And third, I think they
need to become more durable. I’m also not just looking at
what’s in front of my face. I’m looking at what it could become
and what are the current challenges today.When the iPhone was released in
2007, it changed the world. Smartphones were to become almost
ubiquitous 10 years later. When Apple dropped the headphone jack, it
changed the way we connect to our phones. Wireless headphones
are now everywhere. When phone companies ditched physical
buttons on smartphones, it changed the form factor we were used to. Now you’d be hard pressed to find
a flagship phone that has a physical button on its front. But it’s hard to
see a future where folding phones are the norm, at least with
what we’re seeing right now. I think the Galaxy Z Flip, even though
it’s expensive, is as close to there as we are right now,
but we’re not there-there yet. I absolutely don’t believe
this is a fad. This is a trend. And to me, it’s very natural. I don’t think it’s a fad. I think
it’s going to stick around for awhile.


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