Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2019 – We’re folding again!

Finally, after years of simple-mindedness, in which innovative mobile phone design was left primarily to the manufacturers of senior-friendly models, at the Mobile World Congress 2019 there’s some pizzazz again in this series of iPhone copies. At the Mobile World Congress Barcelona, some manufacturers have reapplied themselves to the design of the devices.

old mobile phones that fold, slide, flip

The focus at the Mobile World Congress Barcelona was on something that had already come before, albeit in a different form: mobile phones that fold, slide, flip

The idea of folding is back again. This idea hasn’t been new for a long time: smartphones were already being folded many years ago. The legendary Nokia Communicator is just one example. In the times when the mobile world was shaped by Nokia Series 60, Blackberry and WAP, almost every mobile phone came to market with some new, innovative folding or sliding mechanism. Legendary at that time was the Motorola RAZR, which, when folded, was just 2/3 the size of a current iPhone. The screens were tiny then, and so they usually tried to cleverly integrate the keyboard into the phone. The Sendo even came with a complete foldable keyboard.

Today things are different: the onscreen keyboard has long been accepted, and some pants makers are presumably considering whether they should adjust pocket size to accommodate the current trend of bigger and bigger screens. Since the size of pockets has its limits, Huawei and Samsung are striking a blow for freedom with the Huawei Mate X and the Samsung Fold almost at the same time. Their solution: a foldable screen.

If you accept a bit more thickness, you can double your display simply by folding it up and you can finally retire your tablet. If you believe the price quote of around 2,000 Euro, then the new smartphone still costs more than if you simply bought a new tablet and smartphone.

Currently, Huawei und Samsung both seem to be afraid that the folding monitor may not be worthy of the hubbub of a trade show. At the Mobile World Congress Barcelona, the showcases of the competitors stood directly across from each other. If the openness of a showcase is an indication of the maturity of a product, then Huawei currently seems to be slightly ahead by a nose. The Huawei Mate X was separated from the audience only by a guard and air, while the Samsung Fold was completely shut up in its showcase, making it almost impossible to photograph.

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What both devices have in common is the Android operating system, so it is exciting to see how and finally when the developers will also support these new formats. In contrast, LG introduced a different, very pragmatic approach. Even the new smartphone from LG can be folded.

But whereas Samsung and Huawei devices actually fold the screen too, LG simply put a display on both sides. Of course, that doesn’t help much when you want to stream your favorite show, but you can use two applications in parallel. When I look at the workplace setup of our developers, there seems to be a very large fan base for the multi-monitor workstation. As it stands, existing Android apps run instantly on the two monitors. And finally the price will be well below that of the foldable screen phones. Since this approach can be implemented much more easily, this smartphone will certainly come to market first.

There were, in my view, more “oddballs” at the Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2019. Anyone afraid of a flagging smartphone battery will find what they’re looking for from Energizer. If the user proudly accepts the Energizer’s 1.8 centimeter thickness, then he gets a smartphone with an 18,000 mAh battery. TCL, who have now taken over the production of the BlackBerry device, presented the Key 2, which – as far as could be seen – only differed from the BlackBerry Key in its new colors. Even though I was a self-confessed BlackBerry fan at the time, when you take this phone in hand it instantly feels outdated. The keyboard simply clashes with the long display, the entire design is off, and millions of smartphone users show that the onscreen keyboard is adequate.

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But this whole world of new and exciting smartphone shapes exists only in the Android universe. The world of the Apple iPhone is straight-lined and maybe a bit drab. But here too there is literally some new color. The French refurbishment specialist Remade impressively demonstrated that by reengineering an iPhone you can not only restore it to its factory condition but also add something extra and improve it. So Remade offers iPhones from iPhone 6 and up with very high-performance batteries in almost unlimited colors at very fair prices.

The foundation has been laid, the smartphones are becoming more diverse again, and that will make the MWC more exciting again. We’re ready for Mobile World Congress 2020!

PS: If you feel like traveling back in time to the past of working mobile, take a look at our blog post From the Smartphone Museum: Working Mobile with the Sony Ericsson P900

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