The year 2020 will probably be marked in history for several reasons. Most of them are not good. The coronavirus pandemic is just one. We’re not listing down here the other reasons. We want to keep things here light and cheerful. The year 2020 is also the time when “unconventional” phones have been introduced. By unconventional we mean not the usual design. From the standard brick, touch smartphones we know, some major OEMs have introduced different form factors. Beginning with Samsung, the South Korean tech giant started the year with the Galaxy Z Flip–a clamshell foldable phone.
Samsung Galaxy Z Series
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip was made possible since the South Korean tech already introduced a Galaxy Fold the previous year. The original Galaxy Fold may have been problematic but Samsung was able to redeem itself a few months later. The first-gen Galaxy foldable phone may not be perfect but the second model is a big improvement.
The Galaxy Fold 2 was officially named as the Galaxy Z Fold 2. It looks the same as the Galaxy Fold but is better. We shared with you a hands-on and first impression video by the popular South Korean Boy Band BTS. The Samsung Galaxy Fold and Galaxy Z Fold 2 screens were compared. We also compared it with the Surface Duo.
A special Galaxy Z Fold 2 Thom Browne Edition was released in limited units. A 512GB variant was announced in China and we soon saw a teardown video revealing repairability and better design. There’s also that durability video by JerryRigEverything. There’s even a Samsung W21 5G which is a bigger Galaxy Z Fold 2 exclusive for China.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is a foldable phone in clamshell form. It’s a direct rival of Motorola’s Moto RAZR. A Moto RAZR 5G followed with updated specs. It’s a more refined foldable clamshell smartphone.
We have only seen the two foldable phone formats so: one that opens and closes like a book and another one in clamshell form. We’ve seen that Royole FlexPai foldable phone which was actually the first commercially available foldable phone from China but it’s not that popular. It was followed by a Royole FlexPai 2 5G foldable phone last September.
Huawei did introduce a foldable phone–the Huawei Mate X and Huawei Mate Xs as a follow-up. It’s only two-fold but it folds the opposite direction–outward. Rumor has it the next-gen Huawei Mate X will be an “innie” like the Galaxy Z Fold 2 as shown by recent renders.
Huawei’s venture into the foldable game wasn’t exactly a success as it only sold a few hundreds of thousands. In fact, the company said back in April that Huawei Mate Xs not making money, causing the OEM to lose more.
The LG Wing phone was introduced with a secondary screen which can be used for gaming and more. The LG Wing is dual-display swivel smartphone. Its Portrait, Swivel, Horizontal and Vertical modes were shown off.
The LG Wing was introduced with a swiveling display design and a gimbal motion camera which is ideal for millennials and vloggers. We’ve seen that swivel mechanism video addressing durability concerns. A teardown video further showed off the swiveling design and repairability.
Microsoft Surface Duo
This year, Microsoft released the Surface Duo. It was announced last year together with the Surface Neo. After almost a year of development, testing, and being teased and leaked, the Microsoft Surface Duo was launched.
The hybrid phone-tablet arrived with a custom Android interface, ready with side by side views, and is ideal for most tasks. It comes with a dual-screen design and enterprise level of security by Microsoft. Unfortunately, the foldable device has exhibited certain bugs. Its plastic frame around the USB-port reportedly cracks. Its battery swells also causing some strange bulge.
Rollable phones may soon be a thing. The OPPO X 2021 rollable phone was shown off in hands-on video tour recently. It may not be commercialized yet but there is a possibility a similar form may be used. The rollable/retractable display smartphone concept introduced by OPPO may just be a start.
The LG Rollable could be the next innovative phone from the brand as a patent has been sighted. A prototype has been sighted, codenamed Project B. We remember that LG phone with foldable, bendable, and rollable display that was imagined a few months ago.
Other Concept Phones
In the recent months, we’ve featured other concept phones like that Vivo IFEA with a detachable pop-up camera, TCL concept phone with a slide-out display, and a Xiaomi foldable phone with pop-up camera, and a Huawei clamshell foldable phone. Samsung is also said to be exploring other foldable design ideas. Even HTC has a foldable smartphone design.