I want to be completely upfront and honest with you. I’ve been trying to get behind the foldable phone concept, but I’m really having a hard time here.
It’s without a doubt that the lagging smartphone market needs something to happen, some new kind of trick, in order to shake off the rust and get consumers interested again.
And, at the outset, the idea of a phone literally folding in half seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. Who wouldn’t love to carry around a smaller device that can expand into a much larger tablet-sized device?
But then these new phones started seeing the light of day.
From what I can tell, and from what I’ve been reading about foldable phones, they’re going to be a massive flop, and we’ve yet to see one actually become available at retail.
Recency bias has me looking at the Samsung Galaxy Fold, which was introduced at the company’s Galaxy Unpacked event. Arguably one of the most anticipated product launches in the past few years for Samsung, the Galaxy Fold appears to be a total letdown on a number of different levels.
Where Foldable Phones Flop
For starters, the Galaxy Fold is plain ugly. The closed device is tall and thin, reminiscent of older portable house phones just with no physical buttons or a TV remote. Then the 4.3-inch cover display turns on and you realize you’ve got about an inch of bezel at the top and bottom of the device. I understand that Samsung and Android probably wanted to avoid writing all kinds of new UI code for a full cover display, but then why settle for this kind of design? The Samsung design team couldn’t come up with something better than this?
And then there’s the fact that this device, when closed, literally looks like two phones stacked on top of one another. Samsung’s not the only tech company to struggle with this—Royole’s FlexPai foldable phone has a wedge-shaped challenge of its own—but this is really a nonstarter for me. I don’t see how anyone will be able to bring themselves to carry around a device that just looks so stinkin’ awkward. And, though I know we rarely use these smartphones as actual phones anymore, trying to physically handle these foldable phones while placing a call looks and feels less than natural.
You can pack as much tech into a product as you want, but once you start messing with usability, all you’re doing is creating tons of problems and setting these devices up for failure.
For a product to be a success it needs to not only perform well at its job, it also has to look good while doing it. Design is important to today’s consumer. Without an appealing aesthetic it won’t matter how compelling your product pitch is. Consumers will shy away. More