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Why Foldable Phones are Still a Miss, and Why they Won’t go Mainstream just Yet

by Felix Omondi

Last Friday evening, I was on a stroll to stretch my legs and relax my eyes from all the day’s computer time. My ‘putting one leg in front of the other and repeating the same with the other leg’ led me to the intersection of TRM Drive and Kamiti road next to the Thika Super Highway.

At that point, I thought to myself, ‘it has been a minute since I was inside the TRM.’ Heck, I was on a time-killing spree, so why not do some little window shopping inside the mall? So, I went inside the mall, got past the pesky security checks, and did the hand-sanitizing ritual at the entrance? About 15 steps past the security check at the entrance, guess what I saw?

Well, Samsung had put up a little show for us, complete with cute girls. Now get this, a guy not up to anything useful but looking for some distraction off his work. While my aimless walk around the block had served my body a much-needed cardio-exercises after a whole day’s sitting session on my computer desk. Samsung was now serving me up an opportunity to get chatty with some cute ladies.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

One lady seized the moment – well, she was on a sales grind – and approached me. Cursed be this damn Coronavirus because she looked like the type that could have a really good smile. I couldn’t tell with the black mask covering her face, but it was what it was.

You and I know I wasn’t up to buying a new phone, but she didn’t know that. In summary, I gave her all my time and attention. She went on and on about the features on this fantastic jet-black Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 phone. As a computer person, I do a lot of typing and clicking than talking. This opportunity to run my mouth was a quench of tasty water in my break from my computer.

Well, after drooling over her and exercising my mouth, the following are some of the geeky details I learned about the Galaxy Z Fold 3:

Foldable Display 7.3-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Foldable Display with 374ppi giving you 2208×1768 pixels. Has the Corning Gorilla Glass Victus protection and has a 22.5:18 screen resolution.
Cover Display 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Cover Display with 381ppi giving you 2268×832 pixels. It has a 24.5:9 screen resolution.



The phone is powered by an Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5nm Mobile Platform chip. Backed up by a 12GB LPDDR5 RAM and you get the two options between 256GB and 512GB (UFS 3.1) Internal Storage.
OS Out of the box, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 runs on Android 11
Battery The device is juiced up by a 4400mAh battery that supports wireless charging
Connectivity Galaxy Z Fold 3 supports 5G, 4G, Wi-Fi 802.11 6E (2.4/5GHz), Bluetooth 5.4 LE, GPS, NFC, MST, and has USB Type-C.
Camera 10MP cover front-facing camera, 4MP under-display camera, and 12MP rear camera


Starting Price

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 will set you back Ksh. 220,000 in Kenya. That’s a little shy of $2,000. Now here is where the hit or miss vetting begins. At that price point, very few people internationally, not just Kenyans, will be rocking this device. The average electronic consumer in the world will not be rocking the Galaxy Z Fold because of the price and reasons given below.

Why Foldable Phones are still a Miss

Admittedly, my assumption that the average consumer will not be rocking this foldable phone because of price is very biased. The right words would have been, ‘speaking for myself.’ Other than the price point, below are more reasons why I think foldable phones are just not quite there yet.

The Crease

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like creases, not just on my clothes, but on my bed after making it up in the morning. So how the heck will I stand that on my phone?

Image Courtesy: PocketNow

Conventional static mode phones come with Gorilla Glass Victus and are very durable. However, the folding ability of these foldable phones makes the folding display have a crease in the middle. Although the manufacturers have done an excellent job, it is still not good enough to make the crease unnoticeable.

Dust can Kill It

A foldable phone has a lot of moving parts. Suppose you are in a dusty place, with winds stirring up debris all over the air around you, then some dirt gets around the hinges. When you repeatedly fold and unfold the phone, with time, won’t the dirt particles grind down the phone parts?

Battery Life could be Better

The folding form factor comes with a great sacrifice in the internal real estate space inside the phone. The hinges themselves take up a big part of the primary screen. That means the internal components such as batteries must be made somewhat smaller to fit inside. That, coupled with the fact that while in tablet mode, they have a bigger screen needing more battery juice, makes foldable phones not all that appealing in terms of battery life.

Poor Aspect Ratio

When it comes to long-time video watching, we’re used to the 16:9 aspect ratio. That is the standard video aspect ratio on all the video streaming platforms: YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, for instance, has a 22.5:18 aspect ratio on its primary display. If you view a YouTube video on full-screen mode on this device, you get two big black bars at the top and bottom because the video doesn’t quite fit right.

Where Foldable Phones may be a Hit

Tablets were not entirely the computer replacement we had hoped for because they’re too bulky to carry around. Perhaps these foldable phones might be the best tablet mutants we need. I found typing (split keyboard) on the Galaxy Z Fold 3 quite liberating compared to typing on a regular tablet. The two-fold parts fit naturally into one’s hands while typing.

Finally, there are yet not enough bespoke apps for the foldable display phones yet. Then again, that might have to do with there not being enough consumers to warrant enough attention from developers. To draw in consumers in their numbers, then manufacturers of foldable phones ought to address the issues mentioned above.

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