7 Foldable Phone Problems That Haven’t Been Fixed Yet


samsung galaxy z fold 4 main screen

Ryan Haines/Android Authority

Foldable phones have been gaining momentum since their global introduction in 2019, and we’ve also seen these devices make notable improvements over the years. These advancements include stronger folding screens, reduced display creases, and more robust software.

However, it is clear that there are still several major foldable phone issues that have yet to be resolved. Here are some of the biggest hurdles for future foldables to overcome.

The fold

samsung galaxy z flip 4 fold close up

Ryan Haines/Android Authority

One notable problem that foldable phones have yet to fully address is the presence of a crease in the display. This is especially important on Samsung’s foldables, and you can see and feel the crease on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4.

Screen crease is still an issue on the most prominent foldable phones.

It’s also worth noting that rival foldable phone makers like Oppo, Honor, and Huawei have also tried to fix this issue with varying degrees of success. We thought the Huawei Mate X2 in particular offered a “barely noticeable” crease. Meanwhile, the Oppo Find N only has two slight creases rather than a significant gutter. However, those reduced creases apparently came at the cost of water resistance ratings – not an easy compromise.

Needless to say, it is clear that progress is being made in this regard. But we definitely want a crease-free future on all foldables.

Lack of dust resistance

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 with water droplets

Hadlee Simons/Android Authority

Samsung leads the pack when it comes to IP ratings on foldable phones, offering an IPX8 rating for full-blown water resistance. No other foldable phone can boast of having a water resistant design. However, the “X” in “IPX8” means that foldables aren’t designed to be dustproof at all.

Related: Everything you need to know about IP and ATM ratings

It’s something we really want to see addressed in future foldable phones. We can, however, appreciate the technical challenge of a dust-resistant foldable, given the large number of moving parts involved in this form factor. For example, today’s hinges and display creases still leave room for dust and other debris. We therefore expect these areas to be treated first if full dust resistance is to be achieved.

Folding screens that look and feel cheap

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 folding screen glare

Hadlee Simons/Android Authority

Folding screens have become increasingly durable over the years, with ultra-thin glass (UTG) being available on several models these days. Samsung even offers S Pen support on the Galaxy Z Fold series, somewhat testifying to the screen’s solidity. However, there’s no denying that many folding screens still look cheap.

A bendable glass screen is probably too much to ask, but reduced glare and increased strength would help.

Glare is still an issue on some foldables, like the Galaxy Z Fold 4. Although to be fair, some devices like the Vivo X Fold Plus offer an anti-glare coating to alleviate this issue. Perhaps the biggest problem is that folding screens still look like plastic, because that’s exactly what they are. Samsung’s foldables even warn you not to press the screen with your fingernail, something you wouldn’t have to think twice about on a traditional smartphone.

A full-fledged foldable glass screen would go a long way to solving this problem. For what it’s worth, Gorilla Glass maker Corning is also working on ultra-thin bendable glass, dubbed Willow Glass. But there’s no ETA on it yet and it’s unclear if the manufacturers will still put a layer of plastic on it, like we’re seeing now with UTG.

App support

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Instagram App

Hadlee Simons/Android Authority

Software is an integral part of the foldable phone experience, and Google has done a good job with Android 12L. We’ve seen some great work from Samsung in this regard as well. However, app support is still an issue on foldable phones today.

We still see some apps that don’t actually support popular big-screen foldables like the Galaxy Z Fold series. Instagram is the most notable example of this (seen above), as it still offers what is essentially a smartphone-style window when viewed on the Fold’s large screen. The case of Instagram is particularly disappointing given the amount of resources available in its parent company.

Related: Android 12L — Everything you need to know about Google’s operating system for big screens

Instagram isn’t the only case though, as Amazon isn’t optimized for the foldable screen either, offering a windowed view on the larger panel. Companion AA Writer John Callaham also notes that his Wells Fargo banking app doesn’t work properly on the Galaxy Z Fold 3, not allowing him to use the fingerprint scanner to log in while using the foldable screen. . Either way, it’s clear that app developers still need to step up after all this time.

These aren’t the only examples of shoddy app support, as some apps don’t perform well when it comes to Samsung’s multi-window support or Flex mode either. But hopefully Android 12L and future Android releases open the door to better support.

Specification compromise

xiaomi mix fold 2 2

Another area that has seen reductions due to the form factor is in the overall spec sheet. Most foldable phones in the market make some compromises for technical reasons.

For example, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 still has the same 4,400mAh battery as its predecessors and lacks the 108MP camera or 10x camera of the S22 Ultra. Meanwhile, the Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 lacks wireless charging, water resistance, and a free-stop hinge. The Galaxy Z Flip 4 brings a bigger battery, but you’re still stuck with a dated 12MP + 12MP camera system.

It seems like most foldable phones are making spec cuts because of the form factor.

We can, however, understand why we see some of these compromises. A phone like the Galaxy Z Fold series has a narrower form factor due to the narrow screen of the smartphone. Many foldables are also a bit thinner when unfolded compared to regular smartphones. Add a complex hinge and there really isn’t much space for big batteries, large camera sensors and other goodies. In fact, we’re already seeing several foldables offering dual-battery designs to make the most of the form factor.

It won’t happen overnight, but we really want to see smartphone brands make fewer compromises in the name of the foldable form factor. We may have to wait for new technologies such as smaller lenses and new battery solutions if we really want a no-compromise device. Alternatively, you may just have to deal with thicker foldables. Still, this is particularly disappointing given the asking price for these devices.

Availablity

Official Vivo X Fold Plus

What if you wanted a Xiaomi, Honor, Oppo or Vivo foldable instead? Well, bad luck, because these devices are only available in China and so you will have to import them. It’s a real shame, because some of these devices look like really compelling alternatives to Galaxy foldables.

We hope that will change in 2023 as these players tackle foldable phone development and supply chain challenges. But we really don’t want to see another Samsung year effectively being the default option.

Pricing

Open Huawei Mate Xs 2 screen in hand

Kris Carlon / Android Authority

Huawei Mate Xs 2

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing foldable phones is that most of them are exceptionally expensive. Case in point? The Galaxy Z Fold 4, which starts at $1,799. By comparison, the conventional but better-equipped Galaxy S22 Ultra starts at $1,200.

The Huawei Mate XS 2 ups the ante even further, setting you back €1,999 (~$1,984). That’s a crazy price to pay, especially in light of Google’s lack of a foldable stand.

Clamshell foldables are more reasonably priced, but Fold-style devices are another story.

That’s not to say there aren’t cheaper foldables, as the Galaxy Z Flip 4 in particular is a more reasonable $999. It’s still expensive compared to the average selling price of a smartphone, but it’s in line with today’s typical flagships. Still, we can’t wait for foldable phones with mid-range prices.

The big question is how exactly do we arrive at mid-range foldable prices? Well, some of the more obvious trade-offs involve chipset, RAM, storage, IP rating, and battery capacity. So we wouldn’t be surprised if a theoretical Galaxy A Flip comes with an Exynos 1280 or Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 SoC, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and splash resistance at best.

We also expect companies to switch to cheaper foldable screens from Chinese players like BOE. In fact, the Honor Magic V already uses a BOE flip panel. Finally, we wouldn’t pass up some gamers to use first-gen folding screens for their first mid-range foldables or cut back on features like UTG layers.

What foldable phone problem do you want to solve?

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