Samsung and Huawei, the two mobile phone giants who seemed to be riding the wave of popularity in February, are now struggling with their reputations. The reasons behind this are different, but they lead us to the same question: what does the future of foldables look like? Will customers get their hands on them anytime soon?
The most promising smartphones of 2019: two shooting stars?
We often complain, perhaps a little too much, that the smartphones released lately are all too similar to each other. Elegant glass bodies that attract fingerprints, large displays with more or less invasive notches, fingerprint readers that play hide and seek, increasingly complicated camera modules packed with AI and filters of all kinds...
In 2019, however, the arrival of foldable smartphones has definitely shaken up the tech world
The positive side is that the quality of the devices has improved significantly and that the difference between flagship and mid-range smartphones is no longer as marked as it once was. It's all very nice, but a little boring, isn't it? The wow effect is becoming something exceptional for insiders and also for users.
In 2019, however, the arrival of foldable smartphones has definitely shaken up the tech world. Several brands have shown off their prototypes and announced the arrival of foldable smartphones, but the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X were the real protagonists of the Mobile World Congress.
Unusual, curious, innovative and produced by two of the main market leaders, they could not go unnoticed.
If the Samsung Galaxy Fold was supposed to arrive on the market in April, the Huawei Mate X is expected for the month of June. But let's be honest: at the moment, the future of these two foldable smartphones is rather uncertain. Unfortunately for us, and for the two rival manufacturers.
The fail of the Galaxy Fold
Yes, it is an expensive smartphone and certainly not designed to be slipped into your jeans pocket, but it intrigues. It was untouchable in Barcelona, and still is now: some of the units distributed to the press have shown a problem with the protective film on top of the display becoming damaged. Another problem was the hinge that joined the two parts of the display, where dust and dirt would collect.
Preorders were allowed to be cancelled and the Galaxy Fold market release was indefinitely postponed. Samsung's device, which had managed to anticipate Huawei's in its timetable, was returned to its makers and put in the hands of the technicians to be overhauled.
How many of you would be willing to buy the expensive Galaxy Fold without fearing another flop?
The latest news suggests that the manufacturer has solved the problems by introducing a protective layer in the display, a new protective film more elastic and resistant as well as filling the area where the dust crept in. However, the arrival date is not yet certain, nor is the rumor that the Galaxy Fold is actually ready for use after these adjustments occurred in a rather short time.
The uncertainty of the Huawei Mate X
While Samsung found itself dealing with defective Galaxy Folds (cold sweating at the idea of a new and explosive Note 7-style scandal), Huawei probably smiled, or rather, rejoiced thinking about the launch of the Mate X.
But now the Chinese manufacturer finds itself dealing with the US ban that keeps it away from Google and Android software support. So, where does that leave the Huawei Mate X? Can it make it to market in June? There is no answer to this question: we will have to wait to find out whether Huawei will be able to reach an agreement with the Trump administration.
The Mate X is at the mercy of a deep power struggle, and we have no option but to follow day after day, chapter after chapter
The Chinese manufacturer may already have obtained the Android license for the Mate X: in this case the smartphone could be released with Android Pie without problems. But, what about the upgrade to Android Q? Who would be willing to buy a Mate X without being sure they can receive timely security patches and future software updates? Meanwhile, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro has been removed from the list of devices intended to receive the beta of the upcoming version of Android... which doesn't bode well at all.
Which one's first?
Until a few days ago, the Huawei Mate X seemed to be a certainty with respect to the problematic Samsung Galaxy Fold, but now, the script has flipped. To date, we do not know when the two devices will actually be available for purchase.
Samsung may once again succeed in getting to the market first, but convincing users to buy its foldable will not be easy. How many of you would be willing to buy the expensive Galaxy Fold without fearing another flop? The Mate X is at the mercy of a deep power struggle, and we have no option but to follow day after day, chapter after chapter, hoping for a happy ending. At the end of all this drama, will we still be interested in these devices?
Perhaps the first foldable smartphones to end up in our hands will be distributed by other manufacturers. What if Apple once again manages to come in later but come out on top? So far, no rumors have emerged about a possible folding device produced by the American company, and considering the relations between the United States and China, even the Cupertino firm may have bigger things to worry about at the moment.
China could decide not only to ban Apple products (which would lead to a significant drop in earnings) but, even worse, hinder the production of iPhone, closely linked to Chinese suppliers. Given the speed with which the situation is evolving day after day, it wouldn't be a huge surprise.
Which foldable do you think will be the first on the market? Let us know in the comments below.