Foldable phone: Bleeding edge technology that I won’t buy

Tulisan ini dibuat oleh Handy Setiadi, mahasiswa PhD nano technology di Suwon, Korea

This year at Unpacked 2019 and MWC 2019, we saw Samsung unveiled its first foldable phone to the world. At a glance, it seems like the phone is a sure-fire hit that gonna take the world by storm. However, I don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon. To be honest, the foldable smartphone sounds like something that comes out straight from a science fiction movie. It is something that should amaze me, yet here I am questioning myself whether this is a huge leap on mobile computing or the biggest bummer of the year.

Samsung Galaxy Fold

Unprepared software

As I mentioned before, I’m questioning whether the foldable phone should be a huge leap in mobile computing or not. My biggest problem with it is I can’t find a case where I will need a bigger screen out of my smartphone. Some might argue that the flexibility of having both small and big screen on one device might simplify our workflow because you can use the device as a phone for once and switch to tablet mode on another.

Though this statement has some truth to it, however, as we all know it, there is no tablet that even comes close as a ‘working’ computer. Some company like Apple is trying to breach that gap between ‘media consumption’ and ‘productivity’ device with its iPad Pro but it is not there yet. We still have a solid couple of years more before a tablet is ready for a prime time ‘productivity’ work.

On the other hand, we also have an argument that bigger screen on a mobile device is better for entertainment purposes. I saw one video that shows a person playing a type of MOBA game on a phone a flip the screen to play on a bigger display in the middle of the game. As a gamer myself, I can clearly say it is tempting. Very, very tempting. But is it really that good though?

Data from mediakix shows that the mobile gaming industry is estimated to grow to more than 100Billion dollars in 2021. This seems like a good reason for us to be excited about having a foldable device that can provide a real estate of a screen when playing a game. However, is it justifiable to have a foldable phone just for gaming purposes?


Untested hardware

2019 has proven itself as the year where we tried to make ‘something new’ on the smartphone world. We saw manufacturers trying to eliminate the notch by creating a lot of creative stuff like a punch hole, a camera slider, or no front-facing camera at all. All of this is great and all but most of them have one similar problem with a foldable phone, they all have ‘untested hardware’.

Hang on a minute, did I just say untested hardware? Don’t the manufacturers tested their device before they shipped it? Well yeah, but hear me out for a second. All of these new and fancy devices are very new to the market, all of them either have a new display, a moving part, or new user interface altogether. Sure the manufacturers already tested the device but it doesn’t reflect our day to day usage.

Huawei Mate X

For example, when you own a foldable smartphone, you are dealing with a hinge that needs to move hundreds of time every day and as the world becoming more and more addicted to the internet I don’t see that number is going down. With that in mind, that hinge is very prone to breaking point whether from the accident, dust, and water or even just our insatiable thirst of checking up our phone every 5 seconds.

This leads us to the reality that before 2019, we never actually have a foldable smartphone so we never know whether that design will actually hold up in the real world, therefore, if I have to choose, then I will wait and see whether this crazy, bleeding edge of technology is actually good enough to fill the void in my pocket which usually enclose a simpler

Galaxy Fold Hinge Design

Real expensive device

In a world where a flagship smartphone can reach $1,000 worth of money, it still sounds crazy to have a smartphone at $2000 price. It for one is still only a phone and with that amount of money I can get a Dell XPS 13” and a maxed out Oneplus 6T. I know that people might say the new iPhone XS max and Galaxy 10+ at maxed out specs is getting close to that price but then again it is only viable for a small percentage of the market while the rest of us is better of with the iPhone XR or the cheaper Galaxy 10E.

It is not all bad news though. The truth is, a foldable smartphone is still at its first stage of becoming the thing that can be adopted by the mass and if you want to be an early adopter you have to pay for that price. Eventually, the technology required to build the phone will be cheaper, the manufacturing process will be simpler, and then we will get an affordable foldable phone.

Galaxy Fold Price

Who is this for?

So, the big question is, who is the Galaxy fold for? As a consumer, when I’m about to buy my next smartphone I usually asked myself a couple different question.

First, what I’m going to do with my smartphone? To me, a smartphone should be a phone. It should act as a communication device. I would use my smartphone to make a call, text a friend, or maybe make a video call with my parents. Also, on the side of that, I would love to have a bit of productivity and games.

Now let’s look at the Galaxy Fold, can it do all the stuff that I wanted to do? Most probably yes, and very much do it in style as well. With it’s dual, foldable display, 7nm 64-bit Octa-Core Processor, and that gigantic 12GB of RAM saying that galaxy fold can do all the stuff that I mentioned is a massive understatement. If I’m completely being honest, those specs are even better than my current laptop is. So you might not need to worry about it.

Galaxy Fold, source: Samsung

Then the next question is, how much do I have to pay for those features. As I mentioned before, the Samsung Galaxy fold will cost us $2,000. It, by no means, cheap but, if I have that money to spare, and I am one of that early adopter I would gladly spend my money on the most advanced gadget available.

Last question, does the money worth all of those fancy technology? I might say yes, with a caveat that this phone was made for an early adopter who would love to get the best of the best, who would love to have a little bit more flexibility where they can have a phone and a tablet inside their pocket instead of their backpack. If you consider yourself other than those people that I just described, it might be better to wait just a little longer.

Fold and put on pocket, Source Samsung Video


Call me skeptical but I think all of this foldable smartphone fiesta is not gonna last. People will realize that technology is not ready and probably come back to the normal ‘candy bar’ style smartphone. There is no doubt that a foldable phone is an impressive feat of engineering which shows us what the future can be. Nevertheless, that future is not here yet and will not come anytime soon. We still need to wait for something that actually made for the mass. Until then, I will root for better innovation while avoid adopting that most advanced technology the market has to offer.

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