Smartphone have largely remained the same from a design point of view for the past decade with a standard rectangular form factor. While smartphone makers have trimmed the bezels surrounding the display in the past year, the designs have largely adhered to the standard smartphone designs. However, that could change over the next few years.
Late last year, ZTE showcased the future of smartphones with foldable design when it announced Axon M. Recently, Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh confirmed that the company is also working on a foldable smartphone, but won’t rush with such a design. It now seems Samsung is not alone pursuing foldable design for smartphones.
Wamsi Mohan, an analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch says Apple is also working on a folding iPhone. CNBC reports that the Cupertino-based iPhone maker is working with its Asian partners on a foldable phone. Mohan details Apple’s plans in a report after meeting several Apple suppliers in Asia.
“We expect the iPhones this fall to be largely unchanged for the OLED versions although size changes have proved to be a catalyst in the past,” analyst Wamsi Mohan wrote in a note to clients Friday. “Our checks also suggest that Apple is working with suppliers on a foldable phone (that potentially could double up as a tablet) for launch in 2020.”
Foldable smartphones have been touted as the next major change in the world of smartphones. Samsung is being said to be the leader here with its major research and leadership in foldable OLED display. Chinese technology giant Lenovo has also showcased foldable displays in the past but it is yet to translate into a meaningful product.
Mohan’s report reiterates the buy rating on Apple shares, which is poised to become the first technology company with a market cap of over a trillion dollars. It needs to be noted that Apple has not always been the first to market with a new technology and it will definitely not be the first to debut a premium foldable smartphone.
So far, ZTE is the only smartphone maker to have a foldable smartphone under its belt. However, the Axon M is far from perfect and has issues both in terms of the integration of the display and the software that works on the screen. As a consumer, a perfect foldable smartphone should look and work exactly like it does on HBO’s thriller series Westworld.