Flexible Displays Are Here, and They’re Pretty Awkward Looking
As with any brand new, first-of-its-kind technology, you have to sort of set a low bar for your expectations. But when it comes to the flexible display, it’s hard to do that because it feels like we’ve been hearing about (and promised) foldable smartphones and tablets for quite some time.
So excuse us then if we’re left a little underwhelmed by the design of some of the first products in this new category to come to market.
While Samsung and LG are reportedly working on and possibly even close to launching their flexible screen devices, it appears as though both will be beat to market by the Royole Corporation. Royole, which recently let us demo their RoWrite smart writing system, announced on Wednesday its FlexPai commercial foldable smartphone. Described as “disrupting” to consumers’ traditional concept of a smartphone, the FlexPai product can be used both in its folded and unfolded form factor.
The promise of the product is exactly what manufacturers have been building this category up as: the option to have a smartphone-sized display that unfolds into a full HD tablet-sized display. Sounds great, works great, but now that it’s here and we can see it in the flesh, are we sure that this is what we really want in our next generation of devices?
As a tablet, the FlexPai looks great, there’s no denying that. But the second this thing is folded in half it becomes difficult to imagine how and when I’d want to use a product like this. To be clear, this isn’t a Royole problem. This is a flexible-display problem that may be a nonstarter for a lot of consumers.
The folded phone form factor, to be blunt, looks cringy. What you’re left with after folding the tablet in half is a device that’s wedge shaped and more than double the thickness of the tablet due to the curved edge that doesn’t come to a full crease. I can’t, for the life of me, picture myself using that product as a phone, or just in life in general. What’s great about a standard smartphone (because I guess we have to call them that now) is that it rests evenly in both of your hands. It’s a comfortable form factor that makes using the keyboard or playing games easy and fun.
Foldable phones, from look of this first one, appear to throw comfort out the window entirely. There’s no way a device like this will balance in your hands, right? I mean, look at that design. Imagine trying to type or even take a call on that. And what about carrying it around? Am I supposed to put that thing in my pocket?
A first attempt had to be made. It’s a good thing, I guess, to see the technology actually work, even if it is in an awkward form factor. Hopefully though, for this vertical’s sake, these types of design flaws can be worked out over time as the technology develops and improves and more options begin to hit the market.
What We’re Reading
- ‘Free’ WiFi hotspots can apparently track you, even when you’re not connected to the network. (PCWorld)
- There are some pretty interesting differences between the T-Mobile OnePlus 6T and the unlocked version. (Droid-Life)
- Sonos has officially delays Google Assistant integration until at least 2019, though a private beta will be made available this year. (TechCrunch)