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Published On: Wed, May 25th, 2016

This foldable screen could make smartphones exciting again

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads%2fcard%2fimage%2f97214%2foppo-foldable-screen-phoneA concept prototype of Oppo’s foldable display technology.

Smartphones have become so boring. The hardware and the software have matured to the point where all phones practically look the same and Android and iOS have started borrowing features from each other. The reception for new phones and software is now: “Great, it’s faster! What else you got?”

Flexible, rollable, and foldable displays could, however, make phones exciting again. Chinese smartphone maker Oppo has shown off a prototype for a rather large phone with a screen that folds in half.

The company reportedly started researching and developing the foldable display and phone a year ago and had a working prototype as early as February of this year. 

The proof-of-concept device runs Android and supposedly supports Oppo’s VOOC battery charging technology, which can charge up a 3,000 milliamp-hour smartphone battery from 0 to 75% in 30 minutes. At this year’s Mobile World Congress, Oppo unveiled Super VOOC, an even faster charging technology that can recharge a 2,500 mAh battery from 0 to 100% in 15 minutes.

There also appears to be a camera on one side of the phone. Not much else is known about the prototype device. 

Oppo’s concept device isn’t too dissimilar to the the one Samsung showed off at The Society for Information Display (SID) in 2008. A few years ago, Samsung showed off another concept video for a foldable phone that opens up into a tablet:

Concept displays make for nice fodder to drool over, but will these phones with foldable screens ever become a reality?

It’s possible. If Oppo doesn’t release one themselves, Samsung may. The Korean electronics giant is rumored to be readying a smartphone with a foldable display for launch in 2017. 

Though Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge sales have been better than expected, boosting Samsung’s Q1 2016 profits up 10%, the company’s never shied away from weird form factors. For instance, after several iterations, users have warmed up to the dual curved edges on the company’s “Edge” phones.

Phones with foldable displays could very well be gimmicky, but darn it if they don’t look futuristic.

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