The evolution of smartphones, (maybe)

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The foldable Samsung Galaxy Z Flip pictured on March 4, 2020. Finding a “larger display area, without increasing the handset’s physical width and length has been every user’s dream,” writes Jordan News columnist Jean-Claude Elias. However, the design is not without its drawbacks. (Photo: New York Times)
From the early days of smartphones; designers, manufacturers, and marketers cleverly threw in features that did not just revolve around making and receiving phone calls. اضافة اعلان

The “telephone” part of a phone, which was originally supposed to be the primary function of the devices, was quickly relegated to the background.

In the last few years, the camera would has stolen the show for every new release by Samsung, Apple, Sony, Huawei, and the other makers. We all know how important it has become and to what extent people brag about the quality of their smartphone camera, and how they use it all the time, everywhere.

Now, phones cameras have not only proven their usefulness but have also seen the quality of their images often rival larger, more dedicated cameras. This is true for technical quality at least, however, artistic quality is another story altogether.

With good cameras being taken for granted and pushed almost to their limits in a rather small device, designers had to move forward and find new functionalities to attract consumers and increase sales.

Enter the foldable (or folding) smartphone.

The trend makes perfect sense. After all, enjoying a larger display area, without increasing the handset’s physical width and length has been every user’s dream. This would also bridge the gap between smartphones and tablets.

Typically, the design has an outer screen for quick tasks like answering calls, which does not necessarily need a large display. The design also includes an inner screen with a larger display that’s twice the size of the outer display when you fully unfold the phone.

At present, it looks like Samsung, Huawei, and Motorola are the only companies offering a foldable smartphone.

Two years ago, the Samsung Galaxy Fold was the very first model to feature a foldable design. However, issues and questions about its durability popped up. Newer models like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Huawei Mate Xs promise to solve the problem with units that can withstand repetitive, daily, unfold-fold operation.

At a recent product launch event, Samsung America's vice president of mobile product management, Drew Blackard, said: "Foldable technology reignites the excitement around smartphones."

As exciting as the idea of having a really large display in a pocketable handset may be, the concept comes with some limitations, at least for the time being.

A foldable smartphone is about 40 percent heavier than a regular smartphone. This is not a negligible point. Units are also thicker than non-foldable phones, by about the same ratio as the weight. At this point, it also looks like there are not many applications (from Android or any other OS) that are programmed or available to make full use of the larger screens.

However, perhaps what could hurt foldable phones the most is the price tag: typically between $1,000 and $2,000. This is probably the main deterrent for consumers for the time being. It is significantly more than the most expensive flagship model of smartphone by any manufacturer. It is as expensive as a good, business-oriented laptop computer.

The last, more elusive point is durability. Consumers may want to wait and see how dependable the new units will prove to be in real life, and to what extent they can withstand being opened and closed several times a day over the course of years.

Despite the above constraints and limitations, the main idea of having a smartphone with a very large display is valid and tempting. Prices will go down, as they often do, and manufacturers will find a way to make the devices as sturdy as they should be. However, this may take until sometime around 2025.

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