Explained: Learn all you need to know about foldable smartphone displays

Foldable displays are one of the latest and most innovative smartphone technologies, which have gained global fame over the years. The technology allows users to experience an expanded screen size without losing the portability feature of a smaller phone. These smartphones offer users larger screens that can be folded into a more compact form. Launched in 2018, Royole FlexPai was the world’s first commercially available foldable smartphone. Later, other brands such as Samsung, Motorola and Huawei have followed suit in developing this form factor into their models. Here we will discuss how foldable smartphone display Technology works.
How does a foldable smartphone display work?,
Smartphone displays are usually made of glass, which is mostly inflexible. However, foldable displays are now possible thanks to flexible display technology. Organic Light Emitting Diodes or OLED displays are made of organic materials that emit light when electricity is passed through it. This technology is built around OLED screens because they do not require a backlight to function. Therefore, these displays can be made so thin that they become flexible, forming the basis for flexible screens.
Tech giants like Apple and Samsung have been using this technology for a long time, but earlier this technique was used only to give curved edges to devices. Flexible displays can be found in older smartphones such as the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy Edge series. This technology has now evolved a lot and has grown from allowing curved edges to make screens that can actually be folded.
What material is used to make foldable displays?
All first generation foldable screens are made of plastic polymers because glass is very hard and breaks when bent. Manufacturers initially used polymers because it is lightweight and flexible, but this material was rejected because it was more vulnerable to scratches and marks than displays made of glass.

image credit: iStock

Samsung released the Galaxy Z Flip in 2020 and called it “a leap from polymer screens to ultra-thin glass technology”. Although the top of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip has a soft, scratchable plastic coating, the main component of the display is glass.
Foldable Smartphone Display: Advantages
Portability of Large Displays: Smartphone users can now use their devices to perform tasks that were previously only possible with computers. It’s almost impossible to differentiate what a smartphone should be used for and what isn’t. This trend is the inspiration behind the introduction of tablets as well as phones with larger screen sizes. Foldable display technology has turned this into an even more difficult debate. Earlier, users had to go for a bigger device if they wanted a bigger display. But with foldable screen technology, users can now get a bigger screen without sacrificing the portability of their devices.
Ease of Multitasking:foldable smartphone Multitasking can be taken to a whole new level as these devices allow users to operate three screens simultaneously. The large screen size of these devices also ensures that users do not need to close their eyes to view information on-screen. This is something that most users need to do while multitasking on a traditional smartphone. This could be a game-changer for consumers who use their smartphones for work as they will be able to run three apps at once on a tablet-sized screen. For example, you can join a live meeting on one app, while at the same time taking notes on another app.
Better Image Quality:foldable smartphone display OLEDs are built around screens that make their image quality better than most smartphones available today. Flexible OLED displays offer higher brightness, better contrast, faster refresh rates, and lower power consumption compared to devices with the same size LCD screen.
Screen Protection: Most of the foldable phones available in the market are folded inwards which keep the screen covered when folded. The cover bears the brunt of any accidental impact, while the screen remains protected.
Foldable Smartphone Display: Disadvantages
Affordability: There are traditional smartphones or tablets available with similar features and less expensive than foldable devices. The Samsung Galaxy Fold was launched at a price of around Rs 1,50,000, while traditional smartphones with similar specifications are available for less than half that price.
Regular breakage: Foldable displays tend to get damaged due to repeated folding and unfolding of these devices. Furthermore, the number of folds a foldable smartphone Can withstand before giving is also not standardized among the major players of the industry. CNET ran a test to check the number of Fold devices and found that the Samsung Galaxy Fold lasted 120,000 rounds of folding before giving up, while the Motorola Razr was only able to withstand 27,000 folds.
heavy equipment: Smartphone users tend to opt for devices that are more portable. When portability is concerned, the thickness and weight of the equipment must also be considered. The screen of a foldable smartphone folds up automatically, making it heavy to carry the device around.
What does the future of foldable smartphone displays look like?
Foldable smartphone displays may be exciting and one of the biggest innovations in smartphone manufacturing, but there are still some doubts about whether this display technology will become mainstream. Critics have pointed to its high prices and tendency to fail after turning repeatedly as primary drawbacks.
Flexible smartphones give users the ability to have a screen twice as large as a phone, eliminating the need to purchase two separate devices – a phone and a tablet.
As we have seen before, history has proved time and again that technology gets better and cheaper over time. As the technology behind foldable smartphone displays gets better, users can expect the cost of these devices to come down.

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