The race to make the world’s first commercially available foldable phone has heated up, with Huawei announcing it’s mounting a challenge against arch rival Samsung to become the first to make it happen.
Samsung has been widely expected to be the first major producer to create a device with a screen that can fold and flex – thereby making it much more resistant to breaking or getting damaged. After all, the company had already released details of an “unbreakable” screen that had been certified for its toughness and durability.
In the absence of credible threats from elsewhere, it looked as though Samsung had a clear run to the finish line. That was, until Huawei got involved.
The Chinese firm has announced plans to use flexible OLED panels to beat Samsung to the punch and release a flexible device as soon as next year. However, insiders claim that Huawei will only be able to manufacture a very limited initial run of the devices if it wants to get them onto the market first.
If Huawei does manage to win the foldable phone race, it won’t be the first time it has rushed through a design to beat some of the bigger players into second place. The company famously rushed out its Ascend P7 Sapphire to make use of the burgeoning Sapphire Display technology that had long been rumoured for the iPhone 6. As it turned out, though, Apple didn’t end up using the technology after all.
Just a year later Huawei was at it again, this time with ‘Force Touch’. The company rush-released a smartphone capable of working out how much force a user was applying with each tap of their finger (so it could offer different options accordingly) just before Apple could roll out their version.
There is still much scepticism around foldable phones, with some anticipating that the smaller space for batteries and larger screens will make for a significantly impacted battery life compared to what’s currently on the market. However, novelty is a huge draw, and the sales volumes are expected to follow as a result – so it’s easy to see why companies put so much effort into achieving first-mover advantage.