Will it fold? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 05, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 05, 2019

Will it fold?

Let’s face it: the smartphone design industry is going through an all-time low now. With no radical design change in the horizon, most of the smartphone manufacturers are playing peek-a-boo with the front camera. While some have inspired by the one-eyed monster of famous Pixar flick, has come up with a notch design. This design, which was pioneered by Apple, loved by some, hated by many but adopted by the most smartphone manufacturer.

In such a stale landscape, the only glimmer of hope is: FOLDABLE PHONE. Most of you heard about these new genres of bendable phones already. Samsung formally introduced the first commercial variant of the phone with Huawei showcasing their devices a few days later.

But is the market ready to accept such a device? Or would be another flop? Well, the answer relies on the manufacturer themselves. Folding phones (not foldable) was in the rage during the late ’90s and early 2000s but as they lacked screen real estate, folding phones were slowly phased out of the market. So, the design is market validated but is the utility? Samsung’s maiden device was not a hit amongst early reviewers as many reported they broke the folding screen. Since then Samsung paused its global launch of the device to fix the issue. Now apparently the issue is fixed and Samsung is prepping for commercial launch sometime this quarter. Huawei’s Mate X is a device that I tried out personally. The device is more practically designed as the bendable screen is inward making it better protected compared to Samsung’s one. But no formal announcements have been made so far about when it might hit the stores. Other brands like LG, Xiaomi and OPPO are working on their own prototype and some have showcased those in several expos. But like Huawei, none of those are production-ready.

Another significant barrier to entering the consumer market is the price tag. As every foldable phone are technically two or more smartphone tied together with a high-tech flexible display, the price of the phones is bound to be costlier. Samsung’s Galaxy Fold will cost around $2,000 in the US meaning if these are ever sold in Bangladesh, the price would be more than Tk. 2,00,000/- after taxes for the basic variants. Mate X would cost even higher, roughly around Tk. 2,50,000/- and onwards. Once the technology becomes cheaper, the device’s production cost will also go lower, but at the current pace, it isn’t happening anytime soon.

But to truly understand the trajectory of the market, we have to wait to see it ‘unfold’.


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