back to article Foldables herald the beginning of the end of the smartphone fetish

Until a week ago, many people were sceptical that foldable smartphones would be anything more than a gimmick. I was probably one of them. In the past few days Huawei and Samsung have launched products at prices that ensure very few buyers; they're really asking the rich to crowdfund experimental production runs of flexible …

  1. big_D Silver badge

    Kiss-touch

    It looks like the woman in the photo has been reading Qualityland, although I haven't heard any of the manufacturers announcing they are using Kiss-touch for payment authorization yet.

    1. VikiAi Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Kiss-touch

      Present your tongue-tattoo ID, citizen!

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Yeah I can see it

    Well as you say, my rectangular phoneslab does most of what I need on a daily basis.

    However, there are times when I'm wondering what restaurants are nearby, and my under-6" Moto G6 just doesn't do it. No matter how you cram the UI, listing 20-40 restaurants isn't going to fit, especially if you also want some sort of map.

    It's just what a tablet is for, except a tablet doesn't fit in my pocket/on my bike and the need rarely crops up.

    I sure as hell am skeptical of the technology though. I'm not only going to wait for v1.1, but possibly v2.0

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Yeah I can see it

      "I'm not only going to wait for v1.1, but possibly v2.0"

      The old rule-of-thumb might apply here: never rely on anything until it reaches at least version 3.

      1. a pressbutton

        Re: Yeah I can see it

        ... they called it NT4 for a reason.

        1. Roopee

          Re: Yeah I can see it

          @apressbutton

          I think you mean NT3.1 which was actually NT1.0 and superficially resembled Win 3.1.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yeah I can see it

        The old rule-of-thumb might apply here: never rely on anything until it reaches at least version 3.

        Better allow for some inflation. I've got a Kindle 8 (the 2016 non-paperwhite model) and not having "enjoyed" any previous Kindle, I find there's several important things that strike me as being attributable to parsimonious spec, insufficient testing, and a focus on "minimum viable product".

  4. djstardust Silver badge

    Can we please

    Get a handset that is thick enough to hold properly, strong enough not to smash to pieces with the tiniest fall, allows a removable battery and has a FM radio with headphone jack.

    Thank you.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Can we please

      I would prefer DAB myself

      What, hey put away that pitch fork, ok ok I am leaving

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Can we please

        DAB is of zero interest to me, but there's no reason we can't have both!

        1. Spamfast Bronze badge

          Re: Can we please

          DAB is of zero interest to me ...

          Here, here! DAB doesn't give customers anything FM doesn't - except ten times shorter battery life.

          Of course, I need it when I'm in Norway and they're not going to be the last to go that way.

          ... but there's no reason we can't have both!

          Sounds like the best bet for the moment.

          1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

            Re: Can we please

            Well Spamfast you also get stations such as Radio X outside of Manchester and London, so Chris Moyles, Johnny Vaughan (I'll stop talking otherwise I'll get downvoted more than when I said I was a fan of Clarkson).

            1. Spamfast Bronze badge

              Re: Can we please

              you also get stations such as Radio X outside of Manchester

              Point taken. Bit of a Radio 3/4 grumbly myself so I forget that others do like a bit of variety sometimes.

              Have an upvote.

              SIG

              (Wise decision re presenter lists although Chris Evans would be as risky to own up to as Clarkson. There are limits!) :-D

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Can we please

      The Moto Force Z2 has a shatter proof screen, takes snap-on removable batteries (without requiring a power cycle) and with an attached battery will be thick. So that ticks all your boxes save the FM radio.

    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: FM Radio?

      You are a luddite aren't you?

      Isn't is 'stream' everything these days?

      Who needs no stinking broadcast radio when streaming (Which is really, really inefficient for 99% of use) is the hip technology you should be using.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: FM Radio?

        I think they missed your irony Steve.

        Personally I don't miss having FM radio on my phone, since I either have the phone signal to stream Radio 4 live or I am in a vehicle with an FM tuner. Most Radio 4 content I listen to after broadcast in the Radio iPlayer app so I can pause it when needed. The only music station worth listening to most of the time, Radio 6, is not on FM.

        Occasionally when camping - away from data signal and battery charger - I'd like to sit back and listen to FM... but not so much that I've dug out a discrete FM radio receiver. Somewhere I've got a SanDisk Sansa Clip with FM radio but the dang thing is so small I can't find it.

        The US version of my phone has Qualcomm innards and its hardware FM receiver can be activated with an app. My European version uses Samsung's homegrown silicon which can't pick up FM.

        1. overunder

          Re: FM Radio?

          "Personally I don't miss having FM radio..."

          I had an old iRiver that could broadcast super low power F.M. and until about a month ago, I didn't realize how superior that was until I wanted sound on 2 devices simultaneously.

    4. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Can we please

      I don't know about the FM radio, but you want a thick phone, here's a thick phone with an 18000 mah battery:

      https://www.engadget.com/2019/02/26/energizer-p18k-pop-big-battery-hands-on-thick-phone/

      Anytime someone whines about "why is everyone trying to make phones thinner and thinner, I want a thicker phone with a long lasting battery" I'm posting this link.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Can we please

        Hmm...two things put me off. First, the price tag (~$600 for a phone that size? I don't think so.). Second, you can't remove it! And a battery with specs like that is probably going to have longevity issues, so this smacks of "fancy throwaway phone" to me.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Can we please

        " here's a thick phone with an 18000 mah battery:"

        You won't get THAT onboard an aircraft. One of the reasons most phones top out around 3200mAh is because that's become the legal limit for carryon lithium batteries in many countries.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Can we please

          "You won't get THAT onboard an aircraft. One of the reasons most phones top out around 3200mAh is because that's become the legal limit for carryon lithium batteries in many countries."

          Care to elaborate since I was able to carry 10-20Ah power bricks on board with me recently?

    5. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Can we please

      Energizer 'thick boi' is a partial fit...

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-47387390

      1. overunder

        Re: Can we please

        That phone is ridiculous!!! The picture of it in that dude's pocket is hilarious! They should of add a knife and spoon to it.

  5. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    cynic

    I'd like a bigger screen. Phone is a pain for anything except some limited apps like banking.

    But if we get a bigger phone screen, publishers will just waste the space on adds, unnecessarily wide borders, or other gimmicks.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: cynic

      @Adrian - I understand the need for a bigger screen, which is why I don't do much on the phone other than calls, music, SMS, mail, google maps and the odd bit of internet to solve pub arguments. Thing is, all the stuff I need a bigger screen for can wait til I get home, so my SE works fine when I'm out and about.

      The only time a bigger screen is handy is when on holiday, but since I've usually got a bag with me I can carry an iPad or even a MBA. But even then, most things can wait til I'm back in the hotel room.

      I'm with others on this; if the phone companies are so desperate to innovate then longer battery life (I mean days, not a couple of hours), removable batteries, much more rugged and removable memory would be my list - but given that these would lengthen the time between "upgrades" the phone companies will never do them.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: cynic

        There's evidence that phones are more durable today.

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: cynic

          "There's evidence that phones are more durable today."

          More than half of the people I know have a smashed phone screen, which wasn't true in the past. So either they are less durable, or people are more clumsy. It could be clumsiness, as they are now used more than before.

          1. Mongrel

            Re: cynic

            But a lot of the people with cracked phone screens seem to take no precautions against it either.

            Far too many phone designs favour looks over functionality, lot's of smooth curves and anodised metal or glass bodies which means they're slipperier than a bar of soap.

            What people don't do is get a decent case or even a screen protector, for... Hell if I know actually, vanity only explains so much and given how cheap a tempered glass screen protector & silicone case is it can't be economy either 15 quid will sort you out something that works.

            I also remember someone paraphrasing a Corning rep (probably Linus Tech Tips), every time they announced they'd made Gorilla Glass tougher the manufacturers (led by Apple) would insist on thinner glass rather keeping the thickness to produce a more durable screen.

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: cynic

              My Phone looks like it has a broken screen but the visible cracks are just in the glass screen protector. I'll replace it if the cracks get worse or more dust gets behind it, but til then I won't bother. The pricey screen beneath is pristine.

              It might be that the phones with cracked screens you see amongst your friends are merely phones with cracked screen protectors.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: cynic

                My Phone looks like it has a broken screen but the visible cracks are just in the glass screen protector. I'll replace it if the cracks get worse or more dust gets behind it, but til then I won't bother. The pricey screen beneath is pristine.

                At least you'll get a better price second-hand for it, even if your UX is disappointing every single time you use it.

            2. JohnFen Silver badge

              Re: cynic

              "What people don't do is get a decent case or even a screen protector"

              I know that I don't. I hate both of those things. However, I've had my current phone for about 6 years and the screen remains fully intact and unscratched.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Disappointed cynic

              @Mongrel: f I'd just paid £1000 quid for something so slippery and fragile I'd be disappointed to find out that the manufacturer had made an extra £15 profit and exposed my phone to additional risk by making sure that it hadn't got, as you point out "a decent case or even a screen protector".

              I guess that margins must be terribly tight in this market.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Disappointed cynic

                I guess that margins must be terribly tight in this market.

                On the contrary, margins are splendid on premium kit. And when you factor in the margins on retail spares, the position (for manufacturers) improves greatly if the customer breaks and replaces the screen. Take an iPhone XS Max. Teardown costs estimate the cost of the screen as $80. Here in the UK Apple want £326 to replace the screen. Assume that fitting and spares distribution doubles the cost of the component, so £120. That's a gross margin on screen replacement of 170%. About the same margin they make on the new product, but even so that's £206 additional profit.

                Why on earth would they supply a bumper or screen protector, and suffer lower margin upfront, and fewer £206 contributions for broken screen replacement?

            4. Joe W

              Re: cynic

              "what people don't do..."

              Yeah, and that is exactly what we do not want to do. Make the damned thing more robust, then we do not need a case to protect it. That said: so far I have been lucky...

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: cynic

                It's always better to have a separate case. Think of it as ablative armor: it breaks, you can always replace it. Can't do that for the phone's housing. Same for separate screen protectors. Not worried so much about cracking as scratching.

          2. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: cynic

            As a counterexample, a few years back I used to see cracked screens regularly. Now they're infrequent. Among my friends, only one has broken or cracked their screen.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: cynic

              I buy Moto G6 handsets for my users and they come with a tpu-style, clear bumper case fitted, in the box. A few quid on a glass screen protector (2 for 1 on ebay!) and it's ready for anything. We're in the building trade and, unless the punters are paying for their own screen replacements without telling me, we've had no breakages so far...

        2. Archie Campbell

          Re: cynic

          (ISBN: 9780500341957) Will we require a new, even more fonder yet past tense and morbid metaphor?

      2. holmegm

        Re: cynic

        "I understand the need for a bigger screen, which is why I don't do much on the phone other than calls, music, SMS, mail, google maps and the odd bit of internet to solve pub arguments."

        Not to play contrarian, but isn't that, er, quite a lot?

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: cynic

          @holmegm - iphone SE use last week to-date, which was a typical one:

          13 Calls (sent and received)

          Music - listened to about 10 hours.

          4 SMS (2 sent)

          Read/deleted about 30 mails, but only sent 2 with the phone.

          Google Maps - none last week - forecasting 5 mins tomorrow.

          Internet - <5 mins to solve a pub argument about whether Midge Ure sang for Thin Lizzy.

          Checked bank accounts a couple of times.

          Used a ToDo app (shopping list) once when I went shopping.

          It doesn't feel like a lot to me and, music aside, I probably spend almost as much time looking for my phone as I do using it.

    2. holmegm

      Re: cynic

      "I'd like a bigger screen. Phone is a pain for anything except some limited apps like banking."

      I find it's good for a surprising number of things. *If* the app is designed well.

      I wouldn't have thought that a language learning app would be good on a phone, for example, but Memrise is really well done. Phone version is even better than the web version, in my opinion.

      Sure, there are many things that a desktop or larger display is better for, just saying that I was surprised how many things work on a small display, if designed well. That's the big "if".

  6. tiggity Silver badge

    fetishisable glass slab

    Chances are however the tech goes, I will not be a target.

    A lot of the phone designs seem to be driven more by the manufacturers than the customers.

    It gets harder and harder to find a phone with easily removable / replaceable batteries (of decent size)*, a headphone jack, SD card slot, dual SIM, lightweight "crud free" OS install** / guaranteed to have patches / upgrades provided for many years not just a few months, less slippery than an eel.

    I don't fetishize the glass slabs, I just drearily sift through them finding something to meet my needs and not breaking the bank

    * Often a new battery can resurrect an otherwise "replace it" phone, making this easy is in customer interest but not manufacturer interest (as it delays a new purchase)

    **I should not need to root my phone to get rid of unwanted pre-installed apps be they "popular" (not with me) apps such as Facebook or carrier / manufacturer apps - all the extra crud should be removable by a simple user, should not need rooting

    1. m0rt Silver badge

      Re: fetishisable glass slab

      "A lot of the phone designs seem to be driven more by the manufacturers than the customers."

      Amen to that.

      Marketing departments and their statistics drive what they consider to be the R&D into next must haves, then those come out, and the results end up meaning that they drive the next must haves...and so on. Until, (and I will self flagellate for this after), some disruptive tech comes along.

      Oh Hai, foldable phone!

      Anyone seen the Motorola Razr?

      https://liliputing.com/2019/01/this-could-be-what-the-new-moto-razr-folding-phone-looks-like.html

      What is really funny is the article in the BBC about phones with keyboards.

      *Waves at Gemini*

      Maybe, just maybe, someone is going to produce a phone that meets all these obvious magical criteria.

      Removable Battery - plus good battery life.

      Updated OS for at least 3 years.

      Card slot

      3.5mm socket.

      Foldable or not - that seems too much to hope for because, well, marketing board of Sirius Cybernetics I assume.

      1. Yannerson

        Re: fetishisable glass slab

        Sounds like the Pine phone, if the design comes to market as is.

    2. David Given
      Black Helicopters

      Re: fetishisable glass slab

      CAT (yes, that CAT) have you covered, mostly.

      https://www.gsmarena.com/cat_s61-9076.php

      The battery's not removable, but it's got most of the other stuff you asked for, and it's also ruggedised, waterproof, has an air quality sensor and a thermal imaging camera, and contains a laser.

      Sadly, the actual phone bit is apparently a bit naff, being a little underpowered, and it's also expensive. Review here: https://www.digitaltrends.com/cell-phone-reviews/cat-s61-review/

      ...did I mention the laser?

      1. Joe W

        Re: fetishisable glass slab

        I know a gal who had one of those. Got it after she went swimming with her old phone. She has the habit of carrying her phone in her bra, she is not a handbag person and women's trousers have really small pockets. Beach, bikini, phone, swimming...

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: fetishisable glass slab

      "Often a new battery can resurrect an otherwise "replace it" phone, making this easy is in customer interest but not manufacturer interest (as it delays a new purchase)"

      In my experience, this happens a lot less than I'd like. By the time I've run the battery enough that it should be replaced, the manufacturer has dropped all the updates and it is becoming insecure to run the phone anymore. Short of lineage OS and its continued security patching, the software* seems to last a lot shorter than the hardware. Maybe I just don't use the phone as much as others, so the battery lasts longer, but I have rarely had a phone with terrible battery lifecycle problems. That said, I'd still rather the battery was removable, because that offers some benefits even if I haven't been using them so far.

      * Any ideas on what I should do with an old android device running version 4.4? The hardware is fine, the battery lasts quite a while, the processor is sufficiently fast, and the camera is adequate. Unfortunately, it is so old it doesn't even have a date for security patch level, there is no custom ROM for it, and I haven't even seen a way to root it. It's been sitting on a table for two or three years because I can't bring myself to throw away a perfectly functional piece of hardware even though I don't have a use case in mind for it.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

        Re: fetishisable glass slab

        Cool. We're in the same boat then, and I consider myself to be an expert on this particular issue.

        1. Sell it for whatever money it gets you, no matter how little. This would be equivalent to having a random passerby on the street give you $5/$10/$20 for nothing, because you were going to dump it for $0 anyhow.

        2. Use it as a remote control, especially if it has an IR blaster, especially popular around that exact period (2014 - Android 4.4 era), so chances are that you have that. I'm literally dying for a modern phone that has one!

        If it doesn't have an IR blaster, you can use Wi-Fi and an app installed on the device you want to control (limits your device-to-control choices from "almost everything" to "laptop connected to TV)

        As I quite often say, forget the folk paying hundreds of dollars for a touchscreen remote control like the Logitech Harmony stuff ... you already have one laying around.

        3. Related to #2 above ... you can turn it into a Bluetooth mouse and/or keyboard (but requires that both phone and laptop support BT 4.0 LE -OR if unavailable- joining the same Wi-Fi connection on both and using a companion program on the laptop)

        4. Good processor? Chances are that it'd be a Snapdragon. These are less bothersome in terms of (binary, closed source, "blob") drivers, so you can possibly port LineageOS to it yourself. Not difficult, with lots of guides around, especially if there's another similar device with the same chipset and a working LineageOS.

        5. You can even run Linux on Android phones, either via chroot on top of the existing Android -with or without needing root access on Android- or as a whole (real) OS (as in porting Sailfish OS ... both of which are quite easier than it sounds).

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: fetishisable glass slab

          Thanks for the suggestions. It does not have an IR blaster and nobody bought it when I put it up online, possibly because it isn't a well-known brand. It does run a snapdragon, so I'll look at the process of porting lineage or sailfish to it. It's been a while since I thought about porting a mobile ROM to a device because the experience was so terrible last time (and didn't work after the chaos). Maybe that has improved. I really hate throwing away working electronics that seem to have the capacity for modern workloads, but it sometimes leaves me with piles of stuff left by others who lack that inhibition.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: fetishisable glass slab

        "In my experience, this happens a lot less than I'd like."

        In my experience, this is quite common.

        "By the time I've run the battery enough that it should be replaced, the manufacturer has dropped all the updates"

        Ahh, I understand. I don't care even a little about manufacturer updates, so that's a nonfactor for me.

  7. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Foldable? I've already got that.

    We've had it for decades. They're called "Flip Phones". What's that, you mean a foldable *SmartPhone*? Yeah, it's about time your smarty pants $1K super snazzy no headphone jack havin no removeable battery usin no SD card slot sportin pseudo-smart phone can do what my $40 "dumb" phone can do, huh?

    =-)P

    I'll get my coat, it's the one with the asbestos lining & the Nomex insulation...

    1. quxinot

      Re: Foldable? I've already got that.

      The other thing to remember, whilst waxing nostalgic for folding maps and the like--you're old. Sorry AO, but the up-and-coming market for these devices don't share the same nostalgia. They're completely used to having a single flat surface that lights up and lets them tap away for their information.

      It's okay, I'm old too. But the best map I've ever used was a giant book format thing, which meant the total time spent dicking with it to get it put back to the original shape was less than two seconds, instead of ten minutes and another tear down the long edge.

      1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        Re: Foldable? I've already got that.

        Back when I could still see to use them at all, I mostly used the Thomas Brothers brand maps in the spiral bound ledger format. I had ones in my glove box for most of North America & could figure out where I might be fairly quickly. No faffing about tapping on a GPS SatNav screen trying to figure out WTF was going on, just grab the book for the State I was in, find the nearest street signs, & find that intersection in the index. I could be back on the road & on my way in less time than it took to get the SatNav to accept my fat fingered fumbling attempts to get the UI to understand the difference between Boulevard, Court, CulDeSac, Drive, Expressway, Highway, Lane, Parkway, or Street.

        "Look you stupid bastard, I want Main Street. STREET. Not Parkway, not Freeway, not bloody CulDeFekkinSac. STREET! GAH!"

        Scroll down the index until I found the Street, flip to the right page, follow the street until I found the coordinates for the intersection, find it, note how to get to where I wanted to be, & get my arse back on the road. I instilled the same paper map reliance on my son when teaching him to drive. "You can't rely on the GPS having a signal or giving you the right directions even if it has a perfect signal. You'll never have to wonder if the paper map insists you are NOT currently sitting in the middle of a bloody lake because it thinks you're somewhere you're not." He has a smartphone & uses Google Maps a lot of the time, but he *also* takes public transportation most of the time & thus can't carry a trunk full of paper maps with him everywhere he goes.

        I agree with you that we're getting old & won't be relevant much longer, but not *all* the younger generations are empty headed smartphone addicts that would become instantly lost if the battery in it died. (He'd at least know enough how to find a map & read it to get home!) =-)p

        Now get off my unmapped lawn! I've got Pokemon players to harrass! =-D

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Foldable? I've already got that.

          ""You can't rely on the GPS having a signal or giving you the right directions even if it has a perfect signal. You'll never have to wonder if the paper map insists you are NOT currently sitting in the middle of a bloody lake because it thinks you're somewhere you're not.""

          But you can't rely on a paper map to tell you where you neighbor moved to that new neighborhood and street that wasn't there just a couple months ago. At least with online maps, it's a lot easier to stay current: very useful if the city in which you live is constantly changing.

  8. Def Silver badge
    Coat

    Roller phones are the future!

    No, really...

    Imagine a screen that pulls out like a roller blind. Use it retracted to make a call, send messages, etc. as if it were a regular screen. Pull it out part way to watch a movie, read, navigate, etc. Pull it out all the way and snap it up to a 80 degree angle to reveal a keyboard underneath for working on the go.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Roller phones are the future!

      And dream on :-) Sounds lovely but I would like my screen to be rigid if I am watching a movie, small if I am making a call, slightly larger if I am searching the web. Oh an being able to change the battery whiteout manufacturer whim would be nice (I *like* bluetooth headphones) But I will don my chapeau to anyone who can give it to me

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Roller phones are the future!

      Plastic Logic promises just that but I think the problem has always been the reaction times.

      Andrew has elsewhere pointed out that the material science guys are the unsung heroes of the computer industry and I think we can really see this with the OLED screens.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: Roller phones are the future!

        Already possible with OLED. Costs/reliability/physics tricks tend to make progress slow though. The cost of the device, the risk of folding/tearing/scratching, then figuring out how to structurally support it. All doable, but takes time.

    3. Hero Protagonist

      Re: Roller phones are the future!

      There was a 90’s sci-fi tv show (I think it was Earth: Final Conflict) that featured communication devices with pull-out roller screens.

      1. m0rt Silver badge

        Re: Roller phones are the future!

        Also, iirc, Red Planet (Val kilmer)

    4. eldakka Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Roller phones are the future!

      Wot? Like a scroll?

      It'd definitely have that 'retro' look ;)

  9. idoxde

    Meanwhile in a happy-land...

    My 199£ Xiaomi A2 Lite does it's job perfectly, I have to say. I use bluetooth earphones most of the time but when the battery drains I switch to my standard earphones with an audio jack. I can listen to FM radio when I feel like it. I check emails, WhatsApp messages, texts, do a bit of an odd reddit-reading and some news. Now, hold your breath: it can even display weather forecast! AIMP is great for music, Antenna for podcasts. Front camera is useless since I don't take selfies, rear camera is good enough to capture a moment - if I'm to do some proper shooting session I grab my trusted Nikon gear. I added 128G SD card to expand the existing 64G for my music. And while travelling abroad, I simply add a second SIM card of the country I am visiting, to get most of the data/voice/text services. I charge my phone ever 3 days or so, thanks to the 4000mAh battery - and I honestly couldn't be happier. I don't give half a toss about AMOLED, foldables, curved screen, glass/ceramic back, USB C or it being 2mm thin. If it works solid and isn't a nuisance (careful not to shatter the glass back, charge every 8 hours, no jack, no FM, difficult to hold, etc) it makes me a happier man, which I certainly am.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Devil

      Re: Meanwhile in a happy-land...

      it makes me a happier man

      Mmmm. I agree with your praise for the device, but even so, far too much chirpy happiness there. Let me try and tarnish it by telling you that I bought a new A2 Lite for £118 last November.........

      1. idoxde

        Re: Meanwhile in a happy-land...

        You ruined it for me!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I want Alexandrian scroll format (papyrus, not paper, white)

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      More like Marauder's Map

      A Marauder's Map skin would be great for maps!

  11. Tom 38 Silver badge

    I'm not convinced by any of these foldable

    Anything mechanical will break. If it hinges, its going to break at the hinge. Screen on the outside (Huawei), yeah, that's not going to scratch or fracture within a month. Roller blind phone? Will we get special trousers to take these extra thick slabs around included in the purchase price (50% thicker than the original iphone, which was pretty thick)? Or we don't use it like a phone, in which case wtf is the fucking point..

    Might as well just call them fancy rich people tablets, thats the only niche they're going to fill.

    1. hoola

      Re: I'm not convinced by any of these foldable

      This is the sign of a mature market where the only way to generate sales it to change formats. Simply mechanics will dictate that these will be crap and what is worse, all that happens is the larger screen is filled with the same microscopic text. It is the same as websites that use ever smaller text in varying shades of grey.

      All I want is a screen that can be:

      Seen in the sun

      Readable without having to use a magnifying glass

      A battery that lasts 24 hours and will charge quickly

      Fit in you pocket

      Not break when you look at it or hold it worng

      Make bloody phone calls!!!!

  12. Natalie Gritpants Jr

    I want a foldy screen on the inside of my wallet (9.5 inch diagonal unfolded) with one on the outside for calls/txt.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      An interesting idea...combining the phone and the wallet into one single, handy-to-steal package could revolutionise the pickpocketing industry

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
        Coat

        You're still going to need something for the biometrics, so boltcutters and pliers may still be required.

    2. Franco Silver badge

      "I want a foldy screen on the inside of my wallet (9.5 inch diagonal unfolded) with one on the outside for calls/txt."

      No manufacturer will ever make that, as the target demographic for "disruptive" tech is hipsters and for reasons I have never understood hipsters are obsessed with the walletless society, decrying them as an outmoded societal construct.

      1. m0rt Silver badge

        "for reasons I have never understood hipsters are obsessed with the walletless society, decrying them as an outmoded societal construct."

        But I thought it was the re-use of older, outmoded technology that was the hipster ethos?

        Confused.

        1. Updraft102 Silver badge

          Hipsters like things that are actually outmoded so they can use them ironically. The things they declare outmoded, in turn, are things that are still useful and not actually outmoded. They're flip-flopped, for no other reason than some misguided idea that being ass-backwards is cool, or, er, hip. Once those things they shun actually do become obsolete, they'll like them again, unless they have actually grown up by that point.

          Trying to appeal to people as silly, unserious, and irrational as hipsters is a recipe for frustration.

        2. Franco Silver badge

          "But I thought it was the re-use of older, outmoded technology that was the hipster ethos?"

          You are correct, but wallets have not been replaced by something better, so therefore they are uncool until they are replaced at which point they become retro and cool. Much like plates, which have been replaced (for nod good reason) chopping boards, shovels, sinks, little fryer baskets full of 3 chips constituting a portion and dozens of other crimes against food as documented on wewantplates.com until such time as this shit becomes the norm, shops don't sell plates any more and then hipsters will be buying them on eBay,

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I understand the drive to make these devices mainstream in the way that the article's author suggests. However, what I'd really, really like to see is not the de-fetishisation of these things but the de-necessitisation of them. When people go anywhere or do anything, to NOT have the compulsion to take the device with them or to have to use the device.

    It's so depressing to look around a bar or restaurant and see how many "conversations" seem to involve people looking at a phone or, worse, the absence of conversation as everyone at a table is engrossed with what's on their phone rather than engaging with their companions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re. look around a bar or restaurant

      a few nights ago: we crashed into a dubiously lit, semi-underground strip-club-like "tavern" at 9 p.m. (with surprisingly tasty food and no strippers), waiting for an overnight train. Deep, deep Eastern Europe, practically in Asia, if one were to look from the UK. And there we were, with two kids, me working furiously on my laptop trying to check in return flights (because I hate f... phones), my wife with her mobile trying to figure out what the menu said because I was busy, my daughter lolling her best pal back home, my son sulking as his phone is locked down to UK's network, so left behind at home. At the next table - two natives with what sounded like a tablet-driven tv or movie blaring at full sound (no, really), and at another table across two couples in their 20s, all four of them on their mobiles for practially all the time we spent there, more than 2 hours. Perhaps they were all talking to each other through some teamview / remote app? Life AD 2019.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Yeah, I can travel places easily without a smartphone, but to do so requires a bigger gadget called a car. Public transport is just so much easier to use if you have a smartphone to see timetables, or call a cab when it transpires the bus service is evidently unaware of its own timetables.

      I do take your point though about people's attention. I use a social network called a pub.

  14. iron Silver badge

    I've been wanting a foldable smartphone ever since I first saw Android. The candy bar was never a good design for a phone, the flip phone was always superior. The price is going to have to come down a lot before I can afford one though.

    I have actually owned a foldable / flip smartphone before, so long ago I've forgotten the model number. It was a Motorola and ran Windows Smartphone 2003!

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      > The candy bar was never a good design for a phone, the flip phone was always superior.

      Can you expand upon that? Just curious.

  15. Pete 2 Silver badge

    FAD ALERT - A modern day flip-top

    > each has made a convincing argument that this apparent extravagance has practical value

    I don't buy this. All the screen has to do is to display the content currently of interest.

    But having to go to the faff of opening up the screen just to see that someone you don't care about has tweeted something you aren't interested in - and then having to fold the screen back down again to re-insert into said pocket? That all sounds like too much trouble.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: FAD ALERT - A modern day flip-top

      That's why the Samsung has a secondary display on the case for notifications.

    2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: FAD ALERT - A modern day flip-top

      Because even the largest of phones are too small for comfortable reading. Either you use landscape mode which means you're constantly scrolling

      or you stick with portrait

      which means text comes

      out looking this which

      gets annoying very quickly.

      If all you're doing is checking Facebook it probably isn't for you but if you're trying to learn something. . . well, it will be good when the price comes down.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: FAD ALERT - A modern day flip-top

        Of course for displaying text then having two screens next to each other, akin to two facing pages in a book, is nearly as good as a single screen. It's the display of video or images that is spoilt by a bezel between the two screens.

        The MS Courier featured two screens separated by a hinge. The use-case its team were pushing was using two apps at the same time - the example they gave was a browser on one screen and a scrapbook on the other, for easy copy-paste (or rather, drag n drop) from one screen to the other.

        There was also a two screened clamshell Android by Weird Sony that actually made it into shops.

        LG are bringing the concept back with a second snap-on screen for their latest phone.

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. P.B. Lecavalier
    Meh

    Small is Beautiful

    Let's say that you have normal-sized pockets, normal sized-hands, and like to hold this device in just one hand. Also, you are not into the cloud Kool-Aid and want plenty of storage (say microSD). With decent specs, great lifespan. We are talking about 5 inches at most. It's getting hard to find that in Android land. Bigger is not better.

    1. Franco Silver badge

      Re: Small is Beautiful

      Check out the Nokia (OK, HMD Global ;-) ) range, likely to be something that suits. I have the 6.1 and it's perfect for me, mid range but well specced with USB Type-C, MicroSD, headphone socket and vanilla Android.

    2. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: and want plenty of storage (say microSD).

      Wait what? Samsung do a 1TB phone, that is *expandable*.

      Still, even a cheap second hand Note 3/4 could do 32gb and IIRC a 64gb stick... so don't have to break the bank either.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: and want plenty of storage (say microSD).

        Take it from someone who owns a 4. The phone itself can have longevity issues, and apps are getting longer in the tooth (apps sleeping as soon as you switch them is a warning sign). May be time to consider an LG V20.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: and want plenty of storage (say microSD).

          Samsung have SD card slots and though the screens are tall 2:1, and their new UI (on the Galaxy S 9, coming soon to the S8) is supposed to place a lot of the virtual buttons at the bottom of the screen to be easier to reach with one's thumb.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: and want plenty of storage (say microSD).

            I'd still like someone, anyone, to build a phone that isn't massive. My current phone has a 4-inch screen, and for my use cases*, this is just fine. I don't need a bigger screen, and I don't want a bigger device. The only phone I've seen that is small and runs a modern android is the Google Pixel. The original Google Pixel from two years ago, and even that has a 5-inch screen.

            * My use cases:

            Phone calls: necessary, very little screen needed

            SMS: necessary, not much screen needed

            Email: necessary, some screen needed to read addresses and subject lines, but not that much

            Navigation: useful, some screen needed to select destination, but the rest is voice nav, so not much needed

            I don't browse, edit pictures, read books, etc on my phone. I can get things with bigger screens for that. My phone is a very portable computing device, and that's a feature that is very useful to me.

            1. eldakka Silver badge
              Unhappy

              Re: and want plenty of storage (say microSD).

              I did a phone search on gsmarena, 2016+, Still Available, Android, less than 115mm X 70mm, excluded watches, and got a total of 3 hits.

              Don't have a lot of choice really if you want the smallest Android phone that meets your requirements.

    3. Paul Shirley

      Re: Small is Beautiful

      So basically you need one of todays 'too big for a normal hand' phones that you could fold in half down to 5" or less?

  18. jonathan keith

    Courier

    Now perhaps Microsoft might retrieve its Courier from deep-cold storage and actually go on to build something useful again.

  19. Milton Silver badge

    No, not really

    1. No one is being asked to 'crowdfund' development. The first cars, gramophones, transistor radios, VCRs all cost a bleedin fortune and there weren't many who could afford them. But they sold, and became numerous, and economies of production scale and competition kicked in, and one day everybody had one. That the first foldyfones cost a lot is not remotely new or surprising, and it's not part of any new business model, and it doesn't need daft references to crowdfunding thrown in. There's nothing new about this approach: indeed, it's the only one available.

    2. Fancy gadgets will continue to be 'fetishised' because they always have been. Again, look at the examples above. There was a time when you boasted about having a cassette recorder. (For some reason I still have my Sony TC-55, c.1976, then billed as the world's smallest cassette recorder. Weird.) Modern phones are no different from previous and future human practice, they are just more visibly ubiquitous. People will soon be considering, as they always have, according to their credit rating, whether to buy the cheaper, plainer version, the mainstream workhorse or the fancy, glossy, super-expensive status symbol. They did it with cars and TVs and will do it with foldyfones in due course.

    The phone industry has languished in a severe lack of innovation ever since every lemming on Earth deicded to copy Apple's all-screen candybar. It is good to some true innovation return. But the innovation is in the form factor and engineering, not in anything else. The business model, pricing and marketing will all follow a time-honoured route established since the Model T. Hyping about the end of 'fetishisation', or imagining that a new design presages some game-changing business model completely misses the point. Perhaps the author of the article is very, very young?

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: No, not really

      deicded to copy Apple's all-screen candybar

      LG Prada.

      Too new? IBM Simon.

      Apple were far from the first to turn up with an "all-screen candybar". Not having a poke at your argument - just saying that they weren't exactly the trailblazers on that.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: No, not really

        They were the ones that made that the form factor everyone else followed though. If they hadn't done that, the LG Prada would have just been another of the hundred or so variations on form factors we saw, including weird stuff like ovals and triangles. I'm sure we would have got there eventually, but it would have taken a few more years given that the then-in-development Android was aping Blackberry until they saw the iPhone and realized that's what they needed to ape.

        1. eldakka Silver badge

          Re: No, not really

          Compaq/HP iPaq?

          Sony-Ericsson P800/900?

          1. defiler Silver badge

            Re: No, not really

            Sorry, Doug. I'm with Eldakka here.

            You're absolutely right that Apple popularised the full-face screen. They made it much more usable than the predecessors, and I'll not take that away from them. Importantly, they went for a capacitive touchscreen, which I don't think anybody else had. My old HTC Touch HD had a resistive screen in 2008, for example. It took a little while for everyone to jump on that feature.

  20. DougS Silver badge

    I don't think anyone ever doubted there was a big market for folding phones

    The first truly successful (selling over 10 million, let's say) one won't look anything like these. It won't unfold into a square screen, that's for sure! Some sort of trifold or fanfold so you get a proper aspect ratio for playing videos (which is the #1 usage for tablets) is required, and we'll need better batteries so it can be as light as current models. Still a few years to go, but in the meantime we are going to see a lot of weird experimentation - sort of all the experiments with weird form factors in the pre-iPhone era until we settled on the modern 'rectangular slab of glass'.

  21. Diogenes

    My phone is my phone

    What I really want for everything that does involve making a call or texting (ok with camera) or work (15i SL2) aka media consumption is an 8in high res , lte, sd card enabled tablet with a pen.

  22. herbgold

    "phones can now resemble a pre-digital household object: a paperback book," - well, we have that - sort of - in the form of e-readers. I use my Kindle a lot but don't get the same pleasure out of handling it that I do from a "proper" book. But, hey, I'm old.

  23. Kingsley

    UI

    None of these phone UIs work well on the current size of phones, dragging down to see your notifications? all the interface elements at the very top and very bottom where you have to juggle your hand to reach? i really hope that there's some innovation in this area soon and we don't just see the current OSs on bigger screens offering the same flawed user experience.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: UI

      I think of it like steering. Basically, if you really want control, use both hands.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've read the article once...

    ...then I went back and read it again.

    Left it to sink in the rest of the day day, did a bit of work, ate lunch...

    ...and read it a third time.

    But I don't understand the argument within at all.

    Sorry.

    I don't mean to be rude...

    ...but what are you on?

    (if you don't mind me asking).

  25. M.V. Lipvig
    Trollface

    The way this was written

    made me envision going to a porn site on your flexible phone, then rolling the phone in a tube, after which the porn site... does things... with your phone...

    Then a few weeks later the test results come back. You have electorhea, or congrats, it's an android...

  26. DerekCurrie Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    They're not a fetish. They're a warranty nightmare.

    The result of repeatedly bending the Huawei Mate X has already been making the rounds on the Internet. Bend = Stress = Break. This is particularly the case with laminar material, stuff with layers of different materials.

    So sit back and watch the nightmare further unfold. (that's a pun)

    Oh and I strongly advise NOT buying these bleeding edge monstrosities with high buy-in costs. You'll thank me.

    Seriously, don't reply and rant at me. Sit and watch! . . .

  27. Alan Brown Silver badge

    I DON'T want a _foldable_ device

    It's still too fscking big.

    Look for some inspiration from Tekwar, Earth FInal Conflict or a papyrus scroll.

    Or even McFly's roller blind TV.

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