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Smartphones

These foldable phones all beat Samsung’s Infinity Flex to the punch

  • Despite the hype over Samsung’s recent announcement, folding phones with innovative screens are nothing new
  • Some have even become collector’s items
PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 November, 2018, 2:45pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 November, 2018, 2:51pm

Samsung has just announced a new smartphone that folds like a pocket book, but this particular “form factor” – or physical look and build – is far from new.

Here are some older foldable phones that predate Samsung’s reveal.

Nokia 9000 Communicator

Finnish company Nokia released the 9000, its first “Communicator” phone, in 1996.

A “smartphone” well before the term was even coined, it features a QWERTY keyboard that folds into the phone like a flap and runs on its own operation system.

Kyocera Echo

Asian phone users may not be familiar with the dual-screen Kyocera Echo as it was released exclusively by the US mobile service provider Sprint in 2011.

It runs on Android (remember Froyo, version 2.2?) and has very clunky mechanics: the screens, connected by a hinge, stack on top of one another when closed. But this very special form factor also makes this model a collector’s gem.

Sony Tablet P

OK so this isn’t technically a phone but it did come with a sim card and 3G capabilities so you could make calls on Skype or other online phone services, and it could send and receive text messages.

The device featured two 5.5-inch interoperating displays that were also touch screen. The large hinge that split them, however, made using the two screens as a single display difficult and was one of the main reasons the Tablet P found little success.

ZTE Axon M

While its folding mechanics are definitely more slick than the Kyocrea Echo, the dual-screen ZTE Axon M, when opened, looks like two black slabs stuck together – not at all appealing aesthetically.

Released last year, the phone runs on Android 7 and hasn’t really caught on with tech geeks, let alone the general public.

Royole FlexPai

Beating the Samsung announcement by a week, display makers Royole unveiled a foldable Android phone with a 7.8-inch screen and no visible hinge.

Though it doesn’t look as polished as the handset showcased by Samsung this week, the FlexPai still looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. Royole said it would start filling orders in late December.