Folding phones are already being pitched as the next big wave of tech, and whether or not that turns out to be true, the industry has no plans to stop there.
It’s not just a cool tech demo, either: Lenovo has been developing this for over three years and has plans to launch a finished device in 2020 as part of its premium ThinkPad X1 brand. The goal here is a premium product that will be a laptop-class device, not an accessory or secondary computer like a tablet might be.
Cool factor aside, though, why build a folding PC? The answer is largely portability. Conceptually, it’s the opposite of what most of the foldable phones out there are trying to do. There, companies like Samsung and Huawei are trying to take a device the size of a regular phone and make them bigger. But the idea behind the folding ThinkPad is to take a full-sized PC and make it smaller.
The result is a 13.3-inch 4:3 2K OLED display that can fold up to about the size of a hardcover book (we don’t have the exact weight yet, but Lenovo says it’s less than two pounds, which is about as much as a hardcover copy of one of the larger Harry Potterbooks). That’s already enough to put it on the lighter side of the portable computer spectrum, but the size savings are really when you fold it in half, making it dramatically smaller than a regular laptop.
I got to try out a functional prototype, but there’s not a lot to see at this stage. The screen does fold, as advertised, and Windows worked well enough as a touch interface. But the real magic here — if it happens at all — will come with software and optimizing things to run on the unique form factors that a folding screen can provide.
I will say that I really did like the size of it more than I expected. Folded up, it’s far smaller than even a regular sized 13-inch laptop, and while it’s not exactly something you’ll fit into a jacket pocket, even a large one, it’s comparatively compact. The folded mode was also really nice to hold in my hand, like a giant glowing book.