14 Aug 2020

The Future of Folding Smartphones

This month saw the launch of two important new folding smartphones – the Samsung Z Fold 2 and Microsoft Duo – which have produced a wave of interest. CML expects that the release of more folding devices is evidence of a market pull for folding handsets to move from an engineering showcase to a mainstream product.

Foldable Galaxy Z Fold 2

Opening the Samsung Fold reveals a seamless screen twice the size of a regular display – ideal for watching movies or online gaming. The impressive triple cameras come with autofocus and optical image stabilisation. However, the Fold is thought to be expensive and around twice the thickness compared to conventional smartphones. In addition, there are still noticeable camera bumps in the case design.

The Microsoft Duo is not much thicker than an ordinary smartphone when folded and has no camera bumps. However, to do so it has used a single, small camera with very modest specifications. The other difference to the Samsung Fold is that the display itself does not fold. The two screens are separated by a hinge, meaning it is primarily aimed at improving productivity for enterprise. This target market may help to explain the decision to compromise on camera specifications.

CML’s view is that for folding phones to attract significant market appeal they should be less expensive, thinner, without large camera bumps and have high performance cameras. CML’s camera actuators can help realise these designs as they deliver leading edge camera performance but are intrinsically low height.