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Will 2020 break the 'curse' of folding phones?

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Will 2020 break the 'curse' of folding phones?

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Motorola has delayed the launch of its new folding screen phone, the Razr (Photo: Press Release)

Motorola has announced the postponement of the launch of the new Razr, an updated version of its 2005 flip phone, with a vertical folding screen. The device, with a launch price of $ 1,500, would ship in the United States from December 26.

Motorola's parent Lenovo has attributed the measure to the high demand for Razr above production capacity, with no new release date. But the device has been criticized as another example of a collapsible phone with problems.

When BBC tech reporter Chris Fox tested a Razr prototype, he identified some hardware issues, notably the way the screen moved away from the device when folded.

His verdict was that the new phone will probably be used more as a fashion accessory than as a primary device.

While the price may seem expensive, the value of Razr is lower than the two main competitors in the nascent folding phone market: Samsung Fold is priced at $ 1,980 and Huawei Mate X is not. it costs less than $ 2,600.

Samsung postponed the launch of its Fold in April after device screens broke.

Huawei followed suit, saying that Samsung's problems caused the Chinese company to conduct more testing on Mate X before launch.

The two devices were later released outside Brazil (where there are no details about the arrival of the devices): Fold in September, and Mate X in November. Earlier this year, technology analysts welcomed the arrival of folding phones and how they can help revive a stagnant smartphone market.

But the big brands were accompanied by a little-known California company called Royole Corporation, which launched a folding device called Flexpai at an event in Beijing in October 2018.

The device has never been widely available to consumers and has not received harsh criticism. BBC Click reporter Dan Simmons tested a developer version in January 2019. At the time, he said there were no applications designed to work with the way the folding screen changed depending on its position.

Also in January, Xiaomi President Bin Lin unveiled a prototype folding phone, but the Chinese giant has not yet presented a product to the end consumer.

What to expect from new phones?

Analysis by Zoe Kleinman, BBC Technology Reporter

I haven't seen a folding device out there yet, that is, in someone's hand on the street, rather than a well-guarded prototype at a mobile phone industry event.

Could this be about to change in 2020?

Like many publicly funded projects that failed, the hardware is notoriously hard to get right. However, CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood is optimistic.

He points out that folding devices have had their problems, mainly because they are more fragile than their rigid counterparts, but cites high demand for Razr and early Samsung Fold sales figures as a strong indication that consumers are interested in the products. .

"The next decade will allow a whole new chapter for consumer electronics devices, with screens being added to all kinds of products. It certainly won't be long before we see devices like smart speakers with screens around them," Wood says.

Wood also thinks we'll see a whole new batch of folding devices next year, especially at the giant consumer electronics fair CES in January and the MWC cellphone fair in February.

And for those who find the prices too high, here is a surprise.

This month, a company called Escobar Inc – founded by the brother of Colombian drug dealer Pablo Escobar – announced that it also plans to enter the smartphone market with a folding device priced at just $ 349.

Several technology sites have noted that Escobar Fold 1 is remarkably similar to Royole Flexpai, both in terms of design and specifications. It is currently only available on the company's website.

Anyway, I don't think Samsung is losing sleep over this.

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. (tagsToTranslate) Telephony

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