iphone

Next-Gen Smartphone is Foldables, But Not for the US

If you’re looking to get a sneak peek at the latest and most significant trends taking the handheld world by storm, then there’s probably no better place to look than at an annual event dedicated entirely to mobile phones.

This year’s MWC19 (formerly Mobile World Congress), held in Barcelona Feb 25 – 28, 2019, provided industry innovators and influencers that peek and the kick-off message, ‘This is what we’re waiting for,’ was just the appetizer.

What are we waiting for?

Pushing one’s way through over 109,000 visitors from more than 198 countries and territories to see the latest tech, products, and services showcased by 2,400 companies plus was probably a challenge, especially in a vast exhibition area spanning over 120,000 net square meters.

However, the takeaways from the event were in plain sight – we’re waiting for the latest phone designs like the wacky and wonderful foldables! We’re not talking about flip phones, we’re talking about pushing the envelope of design and creativity to the next level.

While many industry heavyweights are still playing around with the notch and headphone jack, some movers and shakers are focusing on what else they can do with a rectangle pocketable flat-screen phone/camera, and, flexible displays are a case in point.

smartphone
Next-gen smartphone

The Latest Tech Showcased by 2,400 Companies

Pushing one’s way through over 109,000 visitors from more than 198 countries and territories to see the latest tech, products, and services showcased by 2,400 companies plus was probably a challenge, especially in a vast exhibition area spanning over 120,000 net square meters.

However, the takeaways from the event were in plain sight – we’re waiting for the latest phone designs like the wacky and wonderful foldables! We’re not talking about flip phones, we’re talking about pushing the envelope of design and creativity to the next level.

While many industry heavyweights are still playing around with the notch and headphone jack, some movers and shakers are focusing on what else they can do with a rectangle pocketable flat-screen phone/camera, and, flexible displays are a case in point.

MWC19 was full of foldables from Xiaomi’s triple-folding model to Huawei’s sleek Mate X to the Royale FlexPai and TCL’s angular DragonHinge design. Another model flexing its muscle is the Samsung Galaxy Fold foldable phone, which excelled at the Galaxy Unpacked event on February 20, 2019.

The phone should be available in April 2019 at a starting cost of $1,980 in the US, and €2,000 in Europe. Then there’s the LG V50 with an LG Dual Screen attached. Whether it can be called ‘foldable’ is up for debate — perhaps it’s not as glam, but it’s a more realistic way to cram more screens into pockets.

Sad news for US mobile customers is that most of these innovative phones won’t be available to them in any significant way, which brings us to the next point…

sad girl
Sad news for US mobile customers

US – an impenetrable market

Just like with the last waves of clever mobile designs released by Chinese brands, foldables won’t be breaking into the US market in a way that will satisfy customers tired with boring, black and white phones.

Only Samsung’s Galaxy Fold will be up for grabs even if consumers prefer the slim style and inverse fold of Huawei’s Mate X.

There are several reasons for this market inaccessibility. Samsung, for example, doesn’t have to deal with import fees or cellular compatibility in the US, but foreign companies do.

In fact, trendy phones from abroad have always had a hard time breaking into the US market, because of trade agreements, complex geopolitical factors, and market demand. Also, various US intelligence agencies currently distrust Chinese telecom communications corporations.

Google cali
Googleplex california

No competition policy?

Although US customers are frustrated that they’re missing out on exciting and cool phones, there’s more to it. New releases from companies like Huawei and Oppo are increasingly offering some of the world’s finest hardware, presenting novel ideas and offering specs as good as the top US phones. They’re also much more affordable.

They would be a serious threat to the stagnant local phone market that basically just comprises Apple and Samsung phones. By market share, Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo are the second, fourth, and fifth smartphone makers worldwide.

However, in the US, there is basically no competition at all. According to Counterpoint Research, a global industry analysis firm headquartered in Asia, in the Q4 2018, Apple controlled 47% of the market, while Samsung had 22%, LG, at 12%. Google and Sony hardly make a dent.

Main takeaway

Outside the US, the phone world is filled with bizarre and ground-breaking ideas and the foldable space is free for all with many more variations waiting in the wings.

Sadly, US consumers are not in on the action and for thrills, have to make do with notches and iPhone X-like designs — designs that have been far surpassed by the faster paced and more experimental technology of Chinese phones.

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