Why New Foldable Phones Convinced Me That Dual Screens Are Superior
August 16, 2023

Why New Foldable Phones Convinced Me That Dual Screens Are Superior

Foldable phones have been on the market for about five years, yet they still only make up a small portion of the mobile phone market. There are a few reasons for this limited adoption. Firstly, foldable phones tend to be expensive and less durable compared to standard mobile devices. They also often have a noticeable crease running across their displays. However, the main reason for their slow growth is the lack of a “killer app” – a feature or application that is compelling enough to persuade people to buy them. This is where new foldables like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5, Motorola Razr Plus, and Google Pixel Fold come in. These tech giants are introducing a potential game-changer, and it may not be an app, but rather a secondary screen.

These three phones share a common theme beyond their foldable design. Samsung, Google, and Motorola are all exploring the usefulness of having two screens on a phone instead of just one. Each device features an external cover screen that is large enough to comfortably use apps without needing to open the phone. What sets these phones apart is how they utilize these two screens together to enhance photography and other features.

While these foldable phones are still relatively new, the concept of having a phone with two screens serving different purposes shows promise. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Motorola Razr Plus are examples of this concept done well. The external screens on both devices are roughly the same size as the display on an iPhone 4. Though this may be considered small by today's standards, these screens are still sufficient for tasks like messaging, browsing, taking selfies, and reading news headlines without having to open the phone. These phones with cover screens strike a balance between smartwatches and smartphones.

The Pixel Fold's cover screen may not have left as strong of an impression as the Razr Plus or Z Flip 5, but it has an advantage over Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold line. The outer display of the Pixel Fold has a wider shape, resembling a regular phone when closed. This makes the Pixel Fold feel more natural, finding a better balance between a tablet and a phone. Although the main internal display on the Z Fold looks better in terms of brightness and boldness compared to the Pixel Fold, Samsung's external display feels elongated and skinny, making it less enjoyable to use in phone form.

However, the potential behind these dual-screen designs goes beyond what Samsung, Google, and Motorola are currently exploring. One exciting aspect is the way the cover displays and internal screens can work together in the future. Both Motorola and Samsung are starting with the camera, allowing users to preview photos before capturing them, showing friends and family how they look. Google, on the other hand, is introducing a language translation feature in Android 14 that utilizes both the external and internal displays. This feature would display translated text of the other person's speech on the external display, while translating their speech into the user's native language on the internal screen. These innovative approaches show that there is more to these foldable devices than just a big screen that fits in your pocket.

Overall, the introduction of larger cover screens on flip phones and wider front displays on book-style foldables by companies like Samsung, Motorola, and Google signifies a shift in the foldables market. This move is welcomed, as previous foldables did not feel different enough to justify their high cost compared to non-folding phones. These dual-display phones represent a step towards changing that perception and demonstrate that foldable devices have more to offer than just a larger screen.