Why Samsung introduced the Flex, a device with a built-in internal display




The prototype smartphone with the drop-down screen shown by Samsung; The edges of the phone are protected by the housing Source: Reuters

Samsung
presented yesterday's Flex, its technology that allows the life of foldable smartphones. The prototype that has been presented has an external display on the cover and an internal one, twice as large as the equipment is "open". It encourages it as a smartphone to expand and convert to a small tablet, but its goal may be elsewhere.

Samsung's announcement a few days after Royole, the second screen producer, showed something similar, though more basic; LG, an ever-present rival in screen production, promises new features in the field next year (
and already has field experience). In the last two weeks,
Xiaomi with Mi Mix 3,
Huawei with Magic 2 (two of the four largest mobile phone manufacturers in the world) and Lenovo with the Z5 Pro have shown how they are putting on slides phones; Nubia has introduced a dual-screen phone (one front, one rear) that does not have a front-facing camera; a few months ago, Oppo and Vivo showed the equipment with emerging front cameras.

There is no margin

All these companies are looking for the same thing: to offer bigger screens without loading the phone. In recent years (first with Sharp Aquosom, then through Xiaomi with Mi Mix, Samsung with Galaxy S8 and LG with G6, Apple with iPhone X), which was achieved by reducing the black frame surrounding the screen. But that also has a limit.

Apple decided that it is worthwhile to be part of the screen dedicated to a series of biometric sensors and the front camera (the so-called notch, a black notch that is at the top of the screen). His competitors tested this with the same option (Pixel, Huawei, LG, Lenovo, Asus, Motorola), but now they are an option that they think is better.

The final goal of the last two years was to achieve
Vivo Nex, which went on sale mid-year and the following phones: they offer a screen that takes the whole front of the team without departing from a square millimeter of the surface. In Xiaomi Mi Mix 3, for example, the screen occupies 93 percent of the front of the phone. Or they can hide the camera in the phone and thanks to the engine (
as in Oppo Find X) or let the user manually move the full screen (as in Xiaomi Mi Mix 3) to reveal the front camera. The result is the same: the screen occupies the entire front of the phone.

2 x 1

With its technology, Samsung has provided a flexible and foldable display,
which has been promising for many years; with the Infinity Flex screen, it's possible to create a device that's compact – so much that we do not know because the prototype was shown yesterday, with a 4.6 cm external display on the outside – and it is arranged and transformed to 7.3 – a 4: 3-type tablet PC, which is similar (in the ratio between height and width of the screen) to the iPad. We do not know what penalty is being paid for this course, depending on the thickness, weight, endurance, costs, and so on.


Infinity Flex is the name that Samsung delivers with its fold-down technology
Infinity Flex is the name that Samsung delivers with its fold-down technology

But an important display is the 3.5-inch screen of the original iPhone, 11 years ago, at the 7.2 inches Huawei Mate 20 X introduced mid-last month. Today, the larger screen has a synonym for greater efficiency: Samsung has in yesterday's announcement,
the ability to display three applications simultaneously on the drop-down screen; Android and iOS have included the ability to display two applications at the same time in the past few years, and companies have promoted this quality as the pinnacle of productivity.

If this is added to the efforts of Samsung and Huawei to include in their phones
in a way that converts them to a conventional computer by plugging them into a monitor, and Microsoft's idea of ​​Windows 10 Mobile that goes to a Windows 10 PC with a similar connection is memorized (this means that applications will increase when increase the size of your computer). on the screen) we understand a vision that appears on the horizon, whether it's sensible or not: wearing a small phone that becomes a tablet when it's needed, and what's even more – a replacement for a PC- if we connect the keyboard.


Two versions of the Samsung Flex screen
Two versions of the Samsung Flex screen

Time, the development of technology and the market will tell you how much sense this idea has, which is in favor of reducing the number of computers we have. Over the years, several companies have tried alternative routes: from Asus Padfone, a phone that was plugged into the screen and a removable keyboard to become a tablet and then a laptop,
the Linda project, the keyboard and the "bobos" screen for Razer Phone, which crosses Motorola Atrix and other less popular ideas.

Pocket pill

All these suggestions needed a secondary display to stop being smart phones and transform into something else, an ultraportable computer for those who do not want to carry a laptop, or do not need something so sophisticated and are edited with a small tablet and a Bluetooth keyboard. For now, and beyond the exceptional technical commitment, Flex is just a little less than a: a solution limited to a problem that everyone does not have.

The fold-away screen is 7.3 inches, which is not much more generous than with a large smartphone (for example, 6.4 cm in note 9 or 6.5 cm in iPhone XS Max). If Samsung and its customers want to replace compact tablets, devices with drop-down displays can do the same, which means that the user who transmits this tablet offers Flex, a dual function: a smartphone and a tablet.

We still do not know what technical limitations are: Flex may be more useful to convert a compact tablet to a much larger, 12-inch or something similar, and your goal is not on the smartphone. We will have to wait to see which company carries out this technology and how to understand what is the fate of this technology.


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