Future tech will take folding screens beyond phones and tablets

I’ve watched the spread of folding-screen devices from a distance. I’ve been curious. But with high prices and weird construction and compromises, I often haven’t seen the point.

That changed when I took a close-up look at some of the 2020 products boasting folding screens. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, and even the new folding Moto Razr, made sense when I held them. They’re both new, and at the same time, familiar. They’re a return to the make-things-small movement in phones back when I first owned a cellphone, back when the thing in my pocket wasn’t a giant glass slab. Folding phones are going to get even more foldy, and more flexible, from here on in.

My mind goes back to the Nintendo DS, which was the original dual-screen device that I thought was insane at first but then won me over. I loved tucking it away, not worrying about exposing the displays. 

There’s a practical vibe lurking inside folding tablets, like Lenovo and Dell concept devices that can become a laptop or a tablet or an even a larger-screened folding monitor. Maybe you think I’m crazy to say it’s practical. I’m reminded of where I thought hybrid laptops would head eventually when I saw the first tablet-laptop hybrids at CES 2010. I’ve wanted the best of both worlds, and maybe these folding devices could get there.

But there’s a much bigger future to folding that doesn’t even feel addressed yet. I’m curious about transforming, bending devices that aren’t tablets or phones. A few directions immediately come to mind.

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