Trendsetters tell us the next great trend will be foldable smartphones. Samsung’s Galaxy Fold was the first to market. How did that work out? After a couple of decades of smartphones I’m ready for something that folds. But not an iPad mini in my pocket.
Phones that fold are nothing new. Motorola’s brick didn’t fold, but the antenna telescoped. Motorola’s Razr was a folding not-so-smartphone but that might be the design we learn to live with. I can handle a folding iPhone but I don’t want an iPad mini.
Down, Not Out
Frankly, Motorola’s iconic Razr phone was one of my favorites. That, and Nokia’s wonderfully crafted 3310; even the recrafted model remains attractive to those of us in the diminutive crowd with hands to match (and butt pockets that make iPhone XR grimace).
The Razr might be making a comeback; especially if someone can figure out how to keep those bending displays from breaking in the middle. We’re calling it a foldable smartphone, or a bendable phone, but what it really would be is an homage to the past.
A flip phone.
iPhone Flip? That has a good ring to it but I’m sure the App Store would soon be overrun with apps that have fingers that flip, too.
What’s the key to a smartphone that flips? I see a handful (pun intended) of issues that need to be minimized. The first is the flip; or, rather, the fold in the middle. If smartphone displays can be made to bend umpteen thousand times without the cracks and creases Samsung’s Fold created on its first try in public, then foldable smartphones will become de rigueur.
Another issue is the overall size. Samsung decided the Fold needed to be bigger than big. Essentially, an iPad mini that would fold up into a pocket. What I see as more successful and desirable is a Motorola Razr that folds out into an iPhone SE. Or, iPhone XR.
After all, everybody knows that small is beautiful and less is more. I don’t need a bigger iPhone. I need an iPhone that gets bigger when I want it to be bigger.
A third issue is price tag. Why don’t we have an iPhone SE version 2.0? It should be obvious that Apple cannot make any money selling a product that has limited appeal. Samsung will be challenged to make money on the Galaxy Fold that folded. But I’m willing to spend more on an iPhone SE if it’s more Motorola Razr like in size, folds out to an iPhone SE or iPhone 7-ish in size, and doesn’t cost just south of $2,000.
I want an iPhone in my pocket; not an iPad mini. If Apple can get me an iPhone the size of the iconic Razr and it folds out into a real smartphone, I’ll ante up with a bit more money.