presented yesterday Flex, its technology for giving life to declining smartphones. The prototype presented has an external display on the lid, and an internal, twice as large, is used when the equipment is "open". He promotes it as a smartphone that magnifies and transforms into a small tablet, but his destination is perhaps elsewhere.
Samsung's message comes a few days after that by Royole, another screen manufacturer who showed something similar, but more rudimentary; LG, eternal rival in the manufacture of screens, promises news in this area for next year (
and already have experience in the field). In the past two weeks,
Xiaomi with Mi Mix 3,
Huawei with Honor Magic 2 (two of the top four mobile phone manufacturers in the world) and Lenovo with Z5 Pro, showed how they bet on phones with slides; Nubia introduced a dual-screen phone (one front, one back) that has no camera in front; A few months before, Oppo and Vivo showed equipment with a new front camera.
There is no margin
All these companies are looking for the same thing: offering bigger screens without making the phone bulky. In recent years (with Sharp Aquos first and then via Xiaomi with Mi Mix, Samsung with Galaxy S8 and LG with G6, Apple with iPhone X) achieved by reducing the black frame around the screen. But it also has a limit.
Apple decided it was worth that part of the screen to be designed for a series of biometric sensors and front camera (the so-called note, the black chin on top of the screen). Its competitors were tested with the same options (Pixel, Huawei, LG, Lenovo, Asus, Motorola), and now they go for an option that they think is superior.
The Vivo Nex, one of the pioneers in offering a screen that holds the entire front of the team
The final goal for the last two years was to reach
Vivo Nex, which went on sale in mid-year, and the phones that followed it: offer a screen that takes up the entire front of the team without acknowledging a square millimeter surface. In Xiaomi Mi Mix 3, for example, the screen occupies 93 percent of the phone's front. Or they make the camera hidden in the phone and appear thanks to a motor (
as in Oppo Find X) or allow the user to manually shoot the entire screen (as in Xiaomi Mi Mix 3) to reveal the front cameras. The result is the same: the screen occupies the entire front of the phone.
2 x 1
Samsung gave a twist to this concept with its technology to offer a flexible and collapsible screen,
who has promised for years; with an Infinity Flex screen it is possible to create a compact unit – so much we do not know correctly, because what it showed yesterday was a prototype, with a screen on the outer surface of 4.6 inches – and as needed deployed and converted into a 7.3-inch tablet, with a 4: 3 format, that is, in the ratio of the height and width of the screen to an iPad. We do not know what penalty is paid for this hinge, as regards the device's thickness, weight, durability, cost and so on.
But what is important is the screen, which always has more screen, of 3.5 inches of the original iPhone, eleven years ago, on the 7.2 inch Huawei Mate 20 X that was featured in the middle of last month. Is it today to have a bigger screen synonymous with being able to do more: Samsung is promoted, yesterday's message,
the ability to see three applications simultaneously in the drop-down screen; Android and iOS have in recent years been incorporated with the ability to show two applications at the same time, and companies promote this quality as part of productivity.
If this is added to Samsung and Huawei's efforts to incorporate into their phones
a way that turns them into a standard computer by connecting them to a monitor, and Microsoft's idea of Windows 10 Mobile goes to Windows 10 PC with a similar connection to remember (that is, applications will grow when computer size grows). screen), we understand the vision shown on the horizon, whether meaningful or not: to carry a small phone, which becomes a tablet when we need it, and that may be even more – a replacement for a PC – if we connect one keyboard.
Time, technology and market development will tell you how much the feeling this thought has, dedicated to reducing the number of computers we carry. Several companies have tried alternative ways over the years: from Asus Padfone, a phone that was connected to a screen and a removable keyboard to become a tablet and then a notebook,
to Project Linda, the keyboard and the "bobos" screen for Razer Phone, goes through Motorola Atrix and other less popular ideas.
A pocket plate
All of these suggestions needed a secondary screen to stop being smartphones and turn into something more, an ultra portable computer for those who do not want to carry a laptop, or do not need anything so sophisticated and arranged with a small tablet and a Bluetooth keypad. For now, though, and beyond the remarkable technical performance, Flex is something less than that: a solution that is limited to a problem that not everyone has.
The folding screen is 7.3 inches, which is not much more generous than a big smartphone (6.4 inches in Note9 or 6.5 inches in the iPhone XS Max, for example). What Samsung and its customers want is to replace the compact tablets, rolled-screen devices can do the same, that is to say, save the user wearing that tablet and offer, with Flex, a dual-function device: smartphone and tablet.
We do not know yet, what are the technical limits: maybe Flex is more useful for turning a compact tablet into a much larger, 12-inch or something, and your destination is not in the smartphone. We have to wait to see which company is implementing this technology, and how, to understand what the fate of this technology is.