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  • The mobile industry had a brutal 2018, with the first decline that the smartphone market has ever seen.

  • But attendees here in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress have arrived with a new spirit of enthusiasm.

  • Bolstered by the roll out of new 5G networks and the introduction of a brand new innovation in smartphones: folding devices.

  • The first company to unveil this new folding screen technology was a start-up called Royale.

  • But just a few weeks later, we've seen two of the three biggest smartphone companies in the world: Huawei and Samsung.

  • Unveil their own versions of this breakthrough new technology.

  • Foldable is obviously a new era of us bringing technology to life in a very different way.

  • I think the market needs it.

  • I think people have become slightly apathetic about the same form factor over the same of a number of years.

  • So this is really exciting.

  • A new era of how we interact with technology.

  • The foldable phone obviously offers a completely new experience.

  • Once you open it up, you've got a very large screen.

  • And maybe even, in time, it might replace the need to have a tablet.

  • Who knows?

  • But again, the first generation of many to come, no doubt.

  • For now, a lot of that excitement about foldable phones has been locked behind a case like this one.

  • Because while Samsung and Huawei have put plenty of advertising and marketing behind their new folding devices, they're not letting most attendees here in Barcelona actually touch one.

  • That has raised questions not only about the usability and the readiness of the technology, but also how they can possibly expect to persuade people to pay as much as $2,000.

  • Or even more to get hold of one of the first generations of these new devices.

  • We need a bit more storytelling.

  • We need a bit more companies really showing us what the opportunity is.

  • From a price point perspective, you're hitting a very specific market, right?

  • It's either first adopters of technology or people that want a status symbol.

  • And I think that's where you're going.

  • Mass market consumers don't have either the means or the willingness to spend that much money and then figure out what they're going to do with it.

  • Snap to your face.

  • OK.

  • For $1,000 more than Huawei's folding smartphone, you could buy Microsoft's new HoloLens 2.

  • Which some people in the industry believe is a more ambitious vision for the future of computing.

  • It's a little bit like The Crystal Maze.

  • So I have another dotted line with a hand that's showing me that I want to pop it in here.

  • Congratulations.

  • Guide complete.

  • I can now build the jet engine, right?

  • You qualified.

  • For now, Microsoft is only pitching the HoloLens at industrial and corporate customers rather than regular consumers.

  • But equally, it could be many years before a folding smartphone is affordable enough for the mass market.

  • After years of smartphone copycats and a fixation on a boring black rectangle, at least this year at Mobile World Congress, there is a new spirit of experimentation in the air.

The mobile industry had a brutal 2018, with the first decline that the smartphone market has ever seen.

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B1 UK FinancialTimes folding smartphone technology foldable huawei

Folding phones spark new era of experimentation

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    April Lu posted on 2019/04/27
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