Foldable Phones (Still) Aren’t Ready

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-4.0

It seems I often find myself playing the role of cranky old grandpa when it comes to consumer technology. It’s not because I don’t love tech. It is my passion, my profession, and my biggest use of disposable income. But when it comes to making recommendations to average consumers, I seem to constantly be shouting “Get off my lawn” at other people in the tech media. Today I found myself grumbling under my breath at an Android Central piece urging us to consider a foldable phone. Much like my earlier rants against 5G enabled phones, the idea of foldable phones is intriguing but just not ready for primetime yet.

Don’t get excited yet

Last year’s debut of the Samsung Galaxy Fold was a well documented disaster that forced Samsung to make some very public apologies and head back to the drawing board.

A year and a half later they are back with an improved design and more competition in the marketplace. But it’s still not time to be dropping $1,500 to $2,000 on a foldable screen. Let your friends with more money than sense give it a try. Come back in a year to see how it’s going and maybe the phones will be ready.

Well maybe just a little excited

The good news is that there are reasons to be hopeful about the future of folding screens. While last year had one or two models out in the wild, this year is seeing more manufacturers and more variety in foldable devices. There is good reason to think that in 2-3 years most mobile devices will have some form of hinged screen that will provide more flexibility in a device.

Along with Samsung’s revamped Galaxy Fold, they are also releasing its little brother the Z Flip. Add to that Motorola’s shot at nostalgia with the RAZR flip phone and Huawei Mate X and you are seeing three major manufacturers making big bets on folding screen technology.

Add to that list dual-screen devices like the Microsoft Surface Duo and the LG Velvet and we are starting to see more innovation in the mobile space than we have in a very long time.

Spend your money elsewhere

Spending close to $2,000 on a mobile device is a big ask for anyone. And as I get ready to replace my beloved Pixel 2 XL I have to ask some hard questions. More and more I am swinging away from the idea that I should sink all my money into one device that can do everything in an average way back to the idea that I can buy a reasonably priced mid-range phone that will take care of my mobile needs and spend the difference on an upgraded laptop or a tablet.  

It is hard to justify the cost of a Samsung Galaxy Fold when for the same money I can get a Pixel 4a and the super-sleek Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon

This is a personal choice and you will want to evaluate all of the options. But before you blindly plop down your hard-earned money on a folding screen, step back and ask yourself why.

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