Samsung and Huawei were happy to show off their new folding smartphones but not sufficiently confident to allow anyone to touch it or use it. Worse, the Galaxy Fold starts at $1,980, and Huawei’s Mate X starts at $2,600. Do you know what you can buy for that much money?
Thin Is In
According to the naysayers, anti-Apple critics, and nattering nabobs of negativism, all members of the technorati elite politburo, folding smartphones are the next insanely great thing, and Apple is falling behind. Again.
Samsung’s entry is double the screen and double the price. Huawei’s plays oneupmanship with triple the price for triple the screen. Uh huh. It has two folds; three components. Look, I know Apple charges a premium, but seriously, does anyone in Cupertino think iPhone customers will buy double the iPhone screen for $2,898? Steve Jobs won’t roll over in his grave; he’ll come back to haunt Apple’s executives.
Alright, lets’s say that folding smartphones are the future of the industry. That means, 1) you get an iPhone at half the size that folds out to be as big as iPhone XS Max (at twice the price), or, 2) you get an iPhone XS Max-like iPhone that folds out to be as big as an iPad mini (at twice the price).
What’s the commonality in all these options?
As in you will pay more money than you pay for a premium smartphone today, and if my 90-day memory is accurate, premium smartphones– including iPhones– are not selling so well. Does anyone believe that an iPhone SE user will ditch their handheld device to get an iPhone that folds to double the size so it then will not be able to be used in a single hand? Already my iPhone XS Max is a bit too big to use with a single hand most of the time, and that’s the second nod I give to iPhone SE (the first nod is price).
Better, Not Bigger
If folding smartphones are the future of the industry it will all depends upon a few pieces of advanced technology that match up to a price affordable for the great unwashed masses of smartphone users. First, the display. It must be flexible but not crack at the fold. Second, the hinge. It must be strong enough not to break easily, small enough so the display folds flat.
Third, there needs to be a compelling reason to buy the damned thing other than status as first mover on the block. I know I don’t impress anyone with my quad-core MacBook Pro and it’s priced about the same as Huawei’s foldable.
There might be something I’m overlooking– which means my attitude toward folding iPhones might change when Apple shows the rest of the industry how to do it– because I’m a believer in screen real estate. I much prefer to use a a 27-inch Retina iMac to a MacBook Pro (except for the portability factor). I would much prefer to have an iPhone SE in my pocket if it would fold out to be as big as an iPhone XS Max. But I’m not sure that a standard-sized iPhone that grows to iPad mini size that rivals a MacBook Air is what the future of technology is all about.
Yes, I have doubts about the future. Some political, some religious, some as to mankind’s value to the planet, but definitely some skepticism about how Apple will venture into a folding gadget universe. Hell, Apple can’t even make a Mac with a touchscreen. If Apple has an Achille’s Heel, it’s displays. Apple buys them all from someone else.
As much as I admire the value of screen real estate, I think the future of foldable iPhones is more iPhone SE than iPad mini.