Ever since Apple’s iPhone was released in 2007, the smartphone market has grown exponentially. In 2018, sales of the devices breached $520 billion in revenue and that figure is still growing. There have been regular updates and improvements on graphics, storage, and cameras, but not much has changed in terms of appearance. Now, folding smartphones are coming and they could be about to change the whole direction of the industry.
While smartphones have been getting better each year, there is still a major practicality issue when it comes to their size. The device needs to be handy enough to fit in a pocket or a handbag, but the screen needs to be large enough to give users the best possible viewing experience. This initially brought about the idea of the phablet, which is somewhere in between a smartphone and a tablet in terms of size. These models hit off in Asia, but they weren’t as popular in Europe and America. In 2017, there were 203.7 million shipments to Asia Pacific, but only 87 million and 82.8 million to North America and Western Europe, respectively.
These figures are up from 2013 in all regions, highlighting that more people are seeking a larger screen. Foldable smartphones could be coming along at the perfect time to act as a more pragmatic alternative to the phablet. Samsung, Huawei, Oppo, and Motorola all have foldable offerings hitting shelves in the coming months. If these are successful, it would be reasonable to assume that Apple will also create its own product.
One of the main reasons developers are seeking to provide bigger screens is because of the mobile gaming industry, which is booming. 60 percent of smartphone users play games from their phones, with the thriving online casino and poker industries being major players in the mobile market. Games like Texas Hold’em online are popular due to their simplicity, and the fact that there are various guides online that help players improve their game. Other genres such as MMOs have helped boost the mobile industry with games like Clash of Clans from Supercell leading the way. All of these games are played more easily from a larger screen, and this also enhances the viewing experience.
It appears as though the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X will be in direct competition to be the number one folding phone on the market. The Samsung is a 7.3 inch tablet when it folds out, while the Huawei is 8 inches. The two devices fold in different ways, with the Samsung concealing the screen and the Huawei displaying it on the outside of the fold. Both phones will set users back over $1900.
Due to the staggering price range of the upcoming foldables, they are unlikely to have a huge impact on the industry initially. But if they prove to work just as well as normal smartphones, they could become huge after a few generations have been released.