7 foldable phone problems that haven’t been fixed yet

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Foldable phones have been gaining momentum since they were first introduced globally in 2019, and we’ve also seen these devices make remarkable improvements over the years. These steps include tougher foldable screens, reduced display wrinkles, and more powerful software.

However, it is clear that there are still several major foldable phone issues that still need to be addressed. Here are some of the more notable hurdles that foldable devices of the future will have to overcome.

wrinkle

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 wrinkle close up

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

One noticeable issue that foldable phones haven’t fully addressed is the presence of a wrinkle on the screen. This is especially evident on Samsung’s foldable devices, and you can see and feel the creases on both the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4.

Screen wrinkle is still an issue with most notable foldable phones.

It’s also worth noting that competing foldable phone manufacturers like Oppo, Honor, and Huawei have also tried to tackle this issue with varying degrees of success. We thought the Huawei Mate X2 in particular had caused a “barely noticeable” wrinkle. Meanwhile, the Oppo Find N has only two slight creases instead of one large gutter. However, these reduced wrinkles seem to come at the expense of water resistance ratings—not an easy trade-off.

Needless to say, it is clear that progress is being made in this regard. But we’re definitely sticking with a wrinkle-free future across all foldable devices.

No dust resistance

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 With Water Drops

Hadley Simmons / Android Authority

Samsung leads the pack when it comes to IP ratings on foldable phones, offering an IPX8 rating for full water resistance. No other foldable phone is capable of boasting a waterproof design. However, the “X” in “IPX8” means that the pleats are not rated for dust resistance at all.

Related: Everything you need to know about IP and ATM ratings

This is something we really want to see in future foldable phones. We can appreciate the technical challenge of dustproof folding, given the huge number of moving parts involved in this form factor. For example, today’s hinges and screen creases still leave room for dust and other debris to enter. So we expect to treat these areas first if we want to achieve complete dust resistance.

Folding screens that look and feel cheap

Glare foldable screen Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Hadley Simmons / Android Authority

Folding screens have gotten tougher over the years, with Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) available on many models these days. Samsung is also introducing S Pen support on the Galaxy Z Fold series, which is a testament to the screen’s durability. However, there is no denying that many foldable screens still look cheap.

A foldable glass screen will probably be too much, but reducing glare and increasing durability will help.

Glare is still an issue on some foldable devices, such as the Galaxy Z Fold 4. Although some devices like the Vivo X Fold Plus offer an anti-glare coating to mitigate this problem. Perhaps the biggest problem is that foldable screens still look like plastic, because that’s exactly what they are. Samsung’s foldable devices even warn you to tap the screen with your fingernails, something you wouldn’t have to think twice on a traditional smartphone.

A fully foldable glass screen will probably go a long way in addressing this issue. For what it’s worth, Gorilla Glass manufacturer Corning is working on an ultra-thin foldable glass as well, dubbed Willow Glass. But there is no specific time to get to this yet and it is not clear if manufacturers will still put a plastic layer on top of it as we see with UTG now.

Application support

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Instagram App

Hadley Simmons / Android Authority

Software is an integral part of the foldable phone experience, and Google has done a good job with Android 12L. We’ve also seen great work from Samsung in this regard. However, app support is still an issue on foldable phones today.

We’re still seeing some apps that don’t really support large foldable screens like the Galaxy Z Fold series. Instagram is the most notable example of this (shown above), still offering what is essentially a smartphone-style window when viewed on its large foldable screen. Instagram’s status is particularly disappointing given the vast amount of resources available at the parent company.

Related: Android 12L – Everything you need to know about Google’s operating system for large screens

Instagram isn’t the only case, though, as Amazon isn’t optimized for the foldable screen either, providing a view of windows on the larger panel. Colleague AA Writer John Callaham also notes that his Wells Fargo banking app doesn’t work properly on the Galaxy Z Fold 3, and doesn’t allow him to use a fingerprint scanner to sign in when using a foldable screen. Either way, it’s clear that app developers still need to hurry up after all this time.

These aren’t the only examples of poor app support, as some apps don’t perform well when it comes to multi-window support or Samsung’s flexible mode either. But hopefully, Android 12L and future Android versions will open the door for improved support.

Specifications concessions

Xiaomi Mix Full 2 ​​2

Another area that saw cuts was due to the form factor in the overall spec sheet. Most of the foldable phones on the market make some concessions for technical reasons.

For example, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 still has the same 4,400mAh battery of its predecessors and lacks the S22 Ultra’s 108MP or 10x camera. Meanwhile, Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 lacks wireless charging, water resistance and a free stop hinge. The Galaxy Z Flip 4 brings a bigger battery, but you’re still stuck with a dated 12MP + 12MP camera system.

Most foldable phones seem to be making spec cuts of some sort due to the form factor.

We can understand why we see some of these concessions though. A phone like the Galaxy Z Fold series has a narrower form factor due to the smartphone’s narrow screen. Many foldable devices are also somewhat thinner when unfolded compared to typical smartphones. Put in a complicated joint and there isn’t much room for big batteries, big camera sensors and other goodies. In fact, we’re already seeing many foldables offering dual battery designs to make the most of the form factor.

It won’t happen overnight, but we really want to see smartphone brands make fewer compromises in the name of the foldable form factor. We may have to wait for new technologies like smaller lenses and new battery solutions if we really want a non-compromise device. Instead, you may just have to deal with thicker folds. However, this is especially disappointing given the asking price of these devices.

Availability

Vivo X Fold Plus Official

What if you want a Xiaomi, Honor, Oppo or Vivo foldable phone instead? Well, bad luck, because these devices are only available in China, so you will need to import them. It’s a huge shame, because some of these devices look like really compelling alternatives to the Galaxy foldable device.

We hope this will change in 2023 as these players deal with the development of foldable phones and supply chain challenges. But we don’t really want to see another year of Samsung being effectively the default.

Pricing

Huawei Mate Xs 2 screen unlocked at hand

Chris Carlon / Android Authority

Huawei Mate Xs 2

Perhaps the biggest challenge with foldable phones is that most of them are exceptionally expensive. for example? Galaxy Z Fold 4, which starts at $1,799. In comparison, the more traditional and better-equipped Galaxy S22 Ultra starts at $1,200.

The Huawei Mate XS 2 ups the ante even more, setting you back €1,999 (~$1,984). That’s an insane price to pay, especially given the lack of Google’s foldable support.

Clamshell foldable devices are more affordable, but foldable-style devices are another story entirely.

That’s not to say there aren’t any cheaper folds, as the Galaxy Z Flip 4 in particular costs more than $999. That’s still a bit pricey compared to the average selling price of the smartphone, but it’s in line with today’s regular flagship. However, we can’t wait for foldable phones at mid-range prices.

The big question is how exactly do we arrive at mid-range pricing for the foldable stuff? Well, some of the more obvious compromises include the chipset, RAM, storage, IP rating, and battery capacity. So we wouldn’t be surprised if the theoretical Galaxy A Flip packs an Exynos 1280 or Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 SoC, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and splash-proof at best.

We also expect companies to switch to cheaper foldable screens from the likes of Chinese players like BOE. In fact, Honor Magic V already uses a BOE foldable panel. Finally, we won’t get past some players for using first-generation foldable screens for their first mid-range foldables or cutting back on features like UTG tiers.

What foldable phone problem do you want to address?

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