Oppo Follows Samsung and Huawei in Developing Foldable Smartphone, New Patent Reveals

The patent reveals a single display which is in contrast to Samsung's model that had two displays.


Samsung and Huawei, two of the biggest heavyweights in the industry seem to be in the most likely position to deliver a commercial solution next year. Samsung has already shown off a working prototype but did not reveal launch dates saying that it will be some time next year. So, while OPPO and Vivo took the innovation crown this year, Samsung may very well do that next year. However, OPPO is not far behind.

Some of 2019’s most innovative tech in the smartphone industry was showcased by Chinese players OPPO and Vivo. Smartphone OEMs had been trying to get rid of the bezels this whole year and OPPO, as well as Vivo, showed two of the most unique ways in which this could be achieved. The OPPO Find X (review) is a marvel to behold in the hands not just for the novel slider mechanism but also for the exquisite premium finish of the handset. However, it seems the next avenue of innovation seems to be foldable smartphones.

OPPO’s Foldable Phone Patent Reveals Design

Newly discovered patents reveal that OPPO is working on a foldable smartphone and the patents also reveal a lot of the potential design of the handset. The design got patented on November 13, but was submitted back in September, says a source. Regardless, the design looks a bit different that what we have seen on Samsung’s foldable version. OPPO’s foldable concept has just one bendable screen that appears to swivel 180 degrees. This means that you can use half the display when you want and unfold the other when you want more real estate. This also means that half the display will be facing the surface when you’re not using it and it could result in unpleasant scratches on a very costly device. There are cutouts on both the front and the rear which likely belongs to the camera. In fact OPPO patented a few designs all of which have different camera placements. Since this is a patent we’re talking about, it’s also noteworthy that this might not be the final design. That said, OPPO does not manufacture flexible displays and it will probably be sourcing the panels possibly from either of the two biggest players- Samsung or LG.

Are Foldable Phones the Future?

Samsung Foldable Screen Smartphone Prototype

That’s pretty much what is known about OPPO’s foldable device. Apart from the Chinese smartphone maker, LG and Huawei are all poised to introduce a foldable smartphone next year. In the case of LG, current speculation suggests a launch at CES in January 2019 is possible. Unlike Samsung, LG’s product is very mysterious right now and we’ll only have a glimpse once it goes official. Huawei, on the other hand, has confirmed some specifications and even the launch time of its 5G foldable device. The world number two will reveal its own bendable handset at MWC in February. That’s also when we’re expecting to see Samsung’s Galaxy S10 and the commercial arrival of its foldable device.

Talking a bit about the concept of foldable phones, the majority is of a contradictory point of view. Those who disagree cite the exorbitantly high prices and the thickness of the form factor as the key reasons. Indeed, the points are valid as Samsung’s foldable phone will cost somewhere in the region of $1800 which is extremely pricey. Also, being in a nascent stage, these handsets will be rather bulky and a real pain to carry around. That said, if this technology is allowed to mature, we could see costs, as well as the thickness, go down thus making the concept much more appealing to the general public. At present, the debate about foldable phones is polarising and it is only in 2019 when we start to see the actual opinion based on the actual product, that will ultimately decide the fate of the foldable smartphone.