The makers of the phone players compete to present their first smartphones with foldable screens, but analysts warn that technology is still too basic – and expensive – to impress consumers in large numbers.
Samsung, the world's largest smartphone retailer, unveiled the phone as a book to become a tablet at a San Francisco event on Wednesday, becoming the first major manufacturer to offer a long-awaited feature.
China's Huawei, the world's second-largest smartphone vendor, immediately followed Samsung's steps and introduced its fold-out phone – Mate X – on Sunday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The Mate X screen is surrounded by the outside, so users can still see it when it's closed, unlike Samsun's Galaxy Fold, which has a screen that closes.
Huawei's folding phone will be sold for € 2 299 when it's on sale by the middle of the year, even more than Samsung, starting at $ 745.
The crowd at both events shifted when the prices of the devices were announced.
Chinese Xiaomi, South Korean LG and other phone manufacturers have said they are working on their own folders with folders.
Folding headphones are a significant break with the prevailing forms of smartphones they've taken since Steve Jobs introduced the world to iPhone in 2007 – a dark black rectangle with a single touch screen.
Global smartphone shipments fell by 4.1% in 2010 to a total of 1.4 billion in 2018, as people lack a lot of new features, according to a research firm IDC.
Phone manufacturers hope that folding phones will help revive the sales of smartphones.
However, Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight Technology Consulting, said that the appeal of folders would be limited to "gadgets of the gadgets" that want the latest technologies. The research firm predicts that folding phones will remain a niche category by 2022.
They say that in addition to the steep price, the problem with the devices is also poor readability in the sunlight and the extensive design needed to protect the display cover.
Analysts also expressed concerns about the durability of the devices, because they are where there are most likely problems with electronic devices.
"In general, the trend was to create a model that has no mechanical elements in the smartphone to make them more permanent," said Ian Fogg, Senior Mobile Industry Analyst at OpenSignal, who collects and analyzes data from mobile networks.
Both Samsung and Huawei said that their devices can withstand wear more than 100,000 times.
Analysts also wondered whether the phones will work well even when they are stacked, as they do when they break apart.
IDC senior analyst Ryan Reith said he was skeptical that smartphones with foldable screens would work well because applications will have to "adjust" to ensure they work on a smaller screen when the phone is folded down.
"It must be ensured that it is switched from one [screen] to another.
There is a lot of work to be done, "said Reith.
Canalys, a British technology analyst at Canalys, said she expects the folding phones to remain "exclusive ultra-luxury devices" and that less than two million people will be sold this year in the world.
"However, high number of shipments is not a priority. The aim is to capture consumer awareness and every seller wants to prove that it can achieve the greatest technological advancement with new industrial models, "said Canalys Nicole Peng, director of the Canalys.
According to Strategy Analytics, the global sales of foldable phones will increase to about 64.9 million in 2023 – but this will be only 3.5% of worldwide sales of smartphones this year. – AFP