We’re almost near the end of the year and if Samsung and Huawei make good their “promises”, they would give the world a peek at their foldable smartphone or tablets before 2018 comes to a close. They’re not the only ones playing that game, however. As early as 2016, Lenovo has been showing of prototypes rather than just being all talk. This week, right at the start of its Tech World Conference 2018, yet another prototype was spotted. And yes, it works. Whether it’s usable or ready, however, is still an unanswered question.
Some people might think there’s only one way to fold a phone or a tablet. You’d be surprised that OEMs came up with another one. Instead of folding in, with the display tucked inside, they’ve developed a way that folds outside, with the display always outside. While the advantage is that the device’s screen will always be visible, there’s a also a technical reason for adopting that folding style.
We haven’t yet reached a point where screens, even flexible OLEDs, can be bent perfectly flat like you would fold paper. Current technology and manufacturing capabilities require the screen to just bend at a curve, leaving a gap in between. Some OEMs, like Lenovo, decided to turn that limitation into a feature instead.
Two years ago, Lenovo showed off its concepts for foldable phones and foldable tablets. One version had a long display wrap around the user’s wrist, turning a smartphone into a very awkward wristband. Back then, it was just a dummy device. This newest leak shows how far Lenovo has come.
There are definitely still kinks to iron out. A black spot at the “hinge” is very visible, for one. It also seems to be stuck between folding back completely and curving, which leaves it at an awkward position, more like a boomerang than a folding phone. But at least it does have something that works to show off.