In The News : Folding Phones

I remember being sat in the office in Pittsburgh the afternoon that Steve Jobs presented the first iPad to the world.  I spoke about it with my boss, and I thought it a stupid idea.  Why would anyone want a big iPhone with which they couldn’t actually phone anyone, or a tiny laptop without the power or capability of a laptop?

This was coming from an Apple fan too.  I was travelling with my iPhone in my pocket and MacBook Air in my bag, the latter primarily so that I could watch British TV in my hotel via the non-Apple Slingbox I had plugged in in my living room at home.  I had an iMac sat on my desk, but that was no good when I wasn’t at that desk.  Yes, it was no doubt an extravagant setup, but it served a purpose that made that extravagance worth it to me.

The iPad came later for me – an iPad generation later.  It was only with the advent of the iPad Pro, though, that it became useful as a medium to read newspapers and keep my work notes in some sort of order.  Again, it was technology with a purpose for me.

And now the folding phone has arrived and I can’t, for the life or me, work out why.  Ignore all the faults and breaks in Samsung’s effort for the time being, but don’t ignore the fact that the drive in this sort of market for the last however many years has been bigger, yes, but also thinner and lighter.

I can’t work out why someone would want to carry around a phone that’s twice as thick but smaller in height and width than a normal phone until you unfold it.  It would create a rather hefty bulge in one’s pocket and, when it’s folded up, looks like two phones stuck together and that, well, is quite ridiculous.  That form can obviously pack in more things like a bigger battery and better cameras, but you’d expect that for nearly £2000.

Apparently you can display three apps at once on that plastic screen, if the apps can even support it.  Lovely.  And while it might be able to multitask, does that make a device like this good for productivity? I’m not too sure.  In fact, I actually read somewhere that they’re using their foldable phone less because the “phone” is not easy or fun to use and it’s not always worth unfolding.

Despite all that, I’m still reasonably excited about folding phones.  I hope that they can be the start of something useful.  It’s a bit like the justification for F1, is that it gives manufacturers a reason to push design faster than they otherwise would in just a road car business.  Sometimes you have to say that no idea is a stupid idea.  I hope that some people go out and buy it and use it (and break it) and then something better comes along from it.

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