Now let's just say no to tall phones. I'm looking at Samsung, Moto and Essential.
It's been a rocky 12 months since Samsung first teased its folding phone, a sneak peek at the 2018 Infinity Flex display at a developer conference. But that doesn't slow the company down. On a key note on 2019 on Tuesday, Samsung showed off a new display concept that turned the folding phone concept on its head. Literally.
Update 10:50: This post has been updated with a new high screen rumor, Moto razr.
The new display folds like a wallet, not a book, to reveal an ultra-wide inner screen. I'm not talking about a 1
To promote the new concept, Samsung advertises that the device will "easily fit in your pocket" when folded. When opened, Samsung says the high form factor "changes the way you use your phone."
Keep reading to find out why this just won't work.
The Rise of Tall Phones
Samsung is not the only phone maker that annoys a ridiculously tall phone. Earlier this month, Essential teased a "radically different form factor" with a picture of a handset that looked more like a remote than a phone. He showed off several teaser images with a tile interface, skinny apps and an experience designed to “rethink your perspective.” Then on Thursday, Evan Glass tweeted an image of what appeared to be a folding Moto RAZR reboot, you knew that, a seemingly very tall internal screen .
I have no reason to doubt Samsung or Essential's claims. But that doesn't mean I have to agree with them. While a square phone will certainly fit in more pockets than something as big as the massive Galaxy Note 10+, it doesn't say how easy it is to use when opened (or closed, but that's another problem).
If For every phone released in 2019, there is one universal fact that we can pick them up and start using them right away. There is no learning curve and no confusion. Even Samsung's Galaxy Fold adheres to the same basic formula with its phone-to-tablet transformer.
But this new Galaxy folding series is all about something. It does not open to a larger screen that allows you to be more productive. Opens to a higher screen. I can't even begin to understand how to use it with one hand, let alone the logistics of landscape mode. This is a classic example of a tube shaped tube.
Comparisons will immediately be made for the RAZR and Nokia 8110 flip flops, two phones that cause nostalgia for the days before smartphones. Each and every innovator of their day, they have promoted the high and lean factor with unique designs including sliding or turning mechanisms.
But while I always remember my RAZR with affection, I'm not looking for another. The flip phone had its day and purpose, but a full-screen phone that unfolds in the same way makes no sense. I may have problems with the Galaxy Fold, but at least I can understand the issue. His tall conceptual brother, not so much.
If the physical size is confusing, consider the applications. It's hard enough to get Android developers to format their slice apps and 19: 8 displays properly. Samsung and Essential are now expecting thousands of developers to drastically rethink their user interfaces for products that are likely to be flashes in the pan (or just plain panels).
Assuming that it runs on the same Android version we know now – which seems likely given the full trial of a Samsung UI – applications will need to be redesigned in order to not look ridiculous. Current versions of apps like Maps or Mail will be nearly impossible to use, and typing will be a nightmare. I don't even want to think about games.
The future is not high
It is no secret that we are at a crossroads regarding smartphones. For the better part of a decade, phones have gotten bigger, with more screen, fewer buttons, and less endless, culminating in 6-inch phones that pick up fingerprints as fast as they accelerate through tasks.
But as the new decade approaches, the road to smartphones is less secure than ever. There may be a new form factor on the horizon that changes everything the way iPhone did. But we will probably have to suffer through a few stop designs before anyone notices it.
In 2020, this may be the ultra high-end phone. Don't be surprised if it's expired by 2021.