Speculation as to whether or not Huawei will release a “truly foldable” smartphone has been surfacing for years, and despite a lack of recent whispers on the subject, Huawei’s Consumer Business President Jim Xu confirmed in an interview that a Huawei-branded foldable smartphone could be released by 2019.
A recent report from the Nikkei states Huawei wants to introduce a folding phone in early 2019, ahead of its rival Samsung. The story says Huawei is reportedly working with BOE to create a limited small run of foldable handsets. One unnamed analyst in the story says Huawei will release 20,000 to 30,000 of the phones in an effort to attract industry and media attention as the first foldable handset manufacturer.
Huawei is also planning a gaming-focused smartphone, due to be released in late 2018, and it is that device we have the most rumors about, thanks to Huawei’s recent release of its GPU Turbo feature, which boosts gaming performance on Huawei phones. The news that Huawei is also looking toward a foldable future, and isn’t content to rest on the laurels of its extremely pretty flagship phones, makes us very happy indeed.
Past rumors pegged the foldable phone to make an appearance late in 2018, following confirmation from Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business group, that the company already had a workable prototype. The need for better design and innovation has been paramount, however, and that might be why the release date has been pushed back to 2019. It may also be that the phone won’t be available for purchase at first to allow Huawei to gather feedback on the device, which it will then apply before a consumer release.
Huawei’s effort won’t be the first foldable device on the market. That distinction goes to ZTE’s Atom M, which featured two screens connected by a hinge. The device was certainly an interesting one, but we found it lacking in comparison to the more traditional, and much cheaper, Axon 7.
According to longtime rumors and leaks, Samsung has also been working on a bendable smartphone, with a potentially eye-watering price tag. Samsung’s device, which appears to feature a single flexible screen, is more in line with the rumors and patients regarding foldable phones, and it remains to be seen whether Huawei’s device will be closer to Samsung’s or ZTE’s in design. Apple is not to be left behind either, as rumors of a foldable iPhone target a possible launch in 2020. The device could potentially fold out to be used like an iPad.
While a foldable design may initially seem strange, it could offer more benefits than current devices. These include a larger display as well as the ability to fold into more compact shapes — making it easier to carry. Even if the design proves to be a failure, we’re still excited to see how the devices hold up in real life.
Updated on July 26: Huawei plans a limited run of a foldable phone to beat Samsung to market.
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