Student Work

Foldable Phones

The e-life innovation coming out now that I am most excited about is the foldable phone. This invention will not necessarily radically change web design, because we are already doing responsive design based on screen size. But they will change how many people interact with online content, for two reasons.

Firstly, I want to note that there are two types of “foldable phone” that are coming onto the market. The first is exemplified by the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the upcoming Microsoft Surface Duo, and the second by the new Moto Razr and the the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Z Flip. Basically, the first category of foldable phones have a traditional post IPhone smartphone form factor in your pocket, and can be used as a traditional smartphone on the go. But they also fold out into a tablet for more extended use. The second category of device is a compact square or near square in your pocket that folds out for use as a traditional smartphone – it really can’t be interacted with when folded.

The first type of foldable phone is what I’m really interested in. The second type of phone is probably more comfortable in your pocket, and certainly the screen is less likely to get damaged by your keys. Though who knows what damage angrily hanging up by slamming the phone closed will do. But it wont change the way you interact with the web or your apps in a meaningful way.

On the other hand, the simple addition of a 7-9 inch tablet that folds into something you can put in your pocket means that you no longer need to switch devices to fill in an online form or read an eBook. I can say from experience that even a 7 inch tablet is more comfortable than a 6.5 inch phone, in part because 6.5 inch phablets are often long and narrow, harder to read than their official rated size would suggest. On the other hand, most small tablets have budget specs and are often WiFi only. The foldable phones are fast, with flagship specs, and even old eyes will find the folded out screen easy to read. The foldable phone replaces a standard smartphone and a tablet perfectly. It isn’t an ideal replacement for an ereader or computer proper, but for less tech savvy users it may be a good enough for them to do what they did with a computer or ereader.

Finally, app creators will realize the potential of a half folded foldable phone. Especially game developers.