A history of foldable smartphones in photos, from the groundbreaking Kyocera Echo to Microsoft’s ambitious new Surface Duo (MSFT)

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Foldable phones might be the future of smartphones.

Tech giants like Huawei, Motorola, and Samsung have all released foldable phones, and Microsoft just joined them with the launch of the Surface Duo. The appeal for making bigger phones is obvious as they tend to sell better, and they have all the highest end features like fast processors and impressive cameras, but there’s a limit to what people can fit in their pockets. Folding phones have emerged as one way to get around this perpetual problem in the world of technology. 

Even before technology made folding phones feasible, tech companies brought future concepts to show off at conventions like CES. Then, some manufacturers moved forward with dual-screen design, which don’t rely on flexible OLED and can therefore be sturdier. Others made the screens themselves foldable.

Now, even Apple is rumored to be thinking about a future folding iPhone, although there are no official announcements. There’s definitely demand, however. A 2019 UBS survey found that Apple buyers would be willing to pay an extra $600 for a folding iPhone, and fancy features like a folding screen could be a way for phone makers to convince customers to pay more and keep margins high.

Here’s how foldable phones have developed. 

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In 2006, Polymer Vision unveiled a rollable E-reader called the Readius, though it was just a concept. The screen folded over itself several times to become more compact.

Source: CNET

In 2008, Nokia’s animation of a thin, foldable glass smartphone got attention from journalists and tech fans for what seemed impossible at the time.

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Source: CNET

In 2011, the Kyocera Echo stood out as an early foldable phone that was actually made it to market, though it had dual screens instead of a single foldable screen.

In a review at the time, Business Insider’s Steve Kovach noted that it looked similar to a Nintendo DS.

Source: Business Insider

In 2017, ZTE’s Axon M was built around the same concept, with dual screens connected by a hinge.

In a review at the time, Business Insider’s Antonio Villas-Boas noted that while the dual screens could be useful, the hinge got in the way of the experience.

Source: Business Insider

In 2018, Chinese tech company Royole brought the first foldable phone with a flexible OLED display, the FlexPai.

The 7.8-inch screen folded in half but didn’t actually fold flat. Early reviews called the phone “bulky” and difficult to hold.

Source: Business Insider

The Samsung Galaxy Fold went on sale in April 2019 for a hefty $2000. In a review at the time, Business Insider’s Lisa Eadicicco noted the convenience of a phone that could fit in your pocket, yet unfold to nearly the size of an iPad mini.

Source: Business Insider

Some reviewers reported broken screens and felt that the product wasn’t quite ready for market yet.

Source: Business Insider

Only four days after Samsung’s release, …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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