BY ANOI from 21st Century|
Many have longed for lightweight, durable, and flexible touch screen devices, thanks to science fiction. While some seem impossible to make, the tri-folding tablets in the US sci-fi TV series Westworld look like something we could go buy sooner or later. The 2012 film Looper likewise shows cellphones that could be folded up into half their size.
Now, after 11 years of promising this foldable future, South Korean electronics company Samsung has finally delivered. With other companies rushing to roll out their own flexible phones, it seems that they’ve kicked off a new arms race in the smartphone industry.
Back in November, Samsung announced its newest model, the Galaxy Fold. Since then, Xiaomi, Huawei and other Chinese companies have announced similar plans for foldable phones. It looks like Samsung won’t take the lead all by itself, however. The same month, Royole, a lesser-known electronics brand from China, announced that it had a model – the Flexpai – ready to release. And at the 2019 Mobile World Congress, which concluded on Feb 28 in Spain, Huawei took the covers off its foldable Huawei Mate X for 2019.
But why has it taken so many years to turn the idea into reality? According to tech news website Android Authority, the necessary displays were difficult and expensive to produce. They wrote that, in 2012, nine out of every 10 OLED screens produced were defective (有缺陷的). Today, that 10 percent rate has been improved to between 50 and 90 percent.
It’s fun to think about how we could use this technology. We could make TVs that stick to walls like posters, or fold up easily to hide away in drawers. Instead of carrying heavy backpacks, all of our textbooks – and the whole library – could fit into our pockets. It’s also nice to think that we might not have to worry about dropping our devices.
The Galaxy Flex, Flexpai phones and Huawei Mate X are just the first step to that foldable future. In a keynote address, Samsung’s senior vice president of mobile product marketing, Justin Denison, called the foldable screen “the foundation for the smartphone of tomorrow”. “It’s a blank canvas for us to do something beautiful together,” he said.
However, if you recall the 2002 movie Minority Report, this foldable future might not be so bright. Seventeen years ago, it introduced many people to the concept of flexible screens. What was their biggest use? Inescapable advertisements on every surface that followed the characters wherever they went.
(Translator & Editor: Xu Wanyang AND Ji Yuan)