What are foldable phones and why are they so popular?

folding phones

We all thought we’d seen the end of flip phones about ten years ago, but in the last couple of years the new and improved “folding phone” has hit the market and become very popular.

A folding phone in 2022 is all the range due to the convenience of having a smartphone with a large screen that can be folded and easier stored.

What types of foldable phones are available?

There are two types of folding phones - the more common “full foldable” phone and the “clamshell foldable” phone. The former, refers to a phone that folds like a book, going from the size of a normal smartphone, changing into a mini tablet. A popular example of a fully foldable phone is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.

A fully foldable phone is a good choice for someone who wants the benefit of a large phone screen but doesn’t want to have to carry around a large bulky tablet.

A clamshell foldable phone however, folds in half like an old school flip phone and it unfolds to look like a regular rectangular smartphone. An example of this type is the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3. Because clamshell foldable phones fold to be much more compact than fully foldable phones, they’re a good choice if you want to store your phone in a pocket not quite big enough for the ever growing size of a regular smartphone.

Types of foldable phone graphic

Who makes foldable phones?

As you might have noticed, Samsung currently dominates the folding phone market, having released various models over the years. Its newest and most expensive model is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G which currently retails from $1,999 (256GB).

Samsung's latest clamshell foldable phone is the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 which retails for $1,499 (128GB) and $1,599 (256GB).

There are also older Samsung foldable phone models that are cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy Z fold 3, but the older versions have more issues given older technology not yet perfected. However, they’re still a good choice if you want a foldable phone but don’t want to pay $2,000 on the latest model.

A few other phone companies have also released versions of foldable phones, including Huawei, Moterola and Oppo, although the Oppo Find N is not currently available in Australia.

Pros and cons of folding phones

While the idea and technology behind the foldable phone is very impressive and they offer the convenience of having a bigger screen, most current models on the market are still not up to the standard of regular smartphones. For example, two downsides to be aware of are the shorter battery life and lower camera quality that come with most foldable phones.

According to review website Tom’s Guide, the camera quality of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is good, however the iPhone 12 Pro offers a better camera at a similar price. The Samsung also lasted under 8 hours on Tom’s Guide’s web surfing test, while other flagship smartphones lasted 10 hours or more.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 has been ranked by various experts, including Tom’s Guide and Tech Radar as the best foldable phone on the market, meaning that other more affordable foldable phones perhaps aren’t as good.

So, if you think the hefty price tag on a folding phone is worth it and you’re fussed about the battery life or camera quality, it may be a good option. Still, it may be worth waiting for more foldable phone models to be released that presumably will come with better tech.

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Last updated 21 July 2024