back to article The peelable, foldable phone has become the great white whale of tech

So. Gartner was right to be cautious about the foldable phone after all. Samsung has postponed the 3 May launch of the Galaxy Fold handset, and now Reuters reports that the Korean giant wants all the samples back. You're welcome, reviewers will think, as the units were peeling to bits anyway. For Samsung, it's ominously …

  1. upsidedowncreature

    "Pholdable"

    Ugh.

    1. Oh Matron!

      Re: "Pholdable"

      Pholdable = Phail.

      :-)

      1. Huw D

        Re: "Pholdable"

        Phor Phucksake!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Pholdable"

        Phucked up so phar.

    2. Semtex451
      Windows

      Re: "Pholdable"

      Beat me to it. Could it possibly be a copyrighted AndyO-ism?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Headmaster

      Re: "Pholdable"

      Hey, don't get snooty. Pholdable is a perfectly cromulent word

      1. WolfFan Silver badge

        Re: "Pholdable"

        Hmmp. I beseech thee, in the bowels of Crom, to think it possible that thee may be mistaken.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: "Pholdable"

        May I offer you my most heartfelt and sincere contrafibularities?

        1. hopkinse

          Re: "Pholdable"

          All this talk of 'pholdables' is making me frasmotic. I feel a bout of anaspepsia coming on!

          1. nanchatte

            Re: "Pholdable"

            I’m finding this whole aphair all rather pericombobulating, to be honest.

            1. mr_souter_Working

              Re: "Pholdable"

              meethinks I do espy some other fans of Edmund.

      3. jgarbo

        Re: "Pholdable"

        Looks Greek to me...

        1. Loatesy

          Re: "Pholdable"

          . . . or Macedonian?

          1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

            Macedonian Pholdables...

            "Err... yeah, hi... yeah, it's Alexander... just calling for Darius... errr no... no I won't fucking hold, I'm on a tight fucking schedule... just tell him I'm crossing the Granicus and that I'll see him at Gaugamela yeah? Yah... tell him to bring some balls with him this time as well rather than that normal shabby bunch!!!"

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Good reasonable and balanced.

    Never thought I'd see that from the Reg now... am I dreaming? XD

    But yep. Tech is amazing... but not quite ready/rugged for everyday use.

    " LG has shown off a rollable TV. It knows how many beans make five. But neither LG nor Sony have given any indication that the tech is ready for prime time in a phone, which needs to be rugged by nature (compared to a TV). LG has explicitly stated not to expect a foldable smartphone from them in 2019.

    "It is too early for LG to launch a foldable smartphone," said LG Electronics president Kwon Bong-seok earlier this year."

    LG and Sony might have the idea right. Make a controllable setup such as a TV first. A TV is not getting lugged about on the bus, and so can get use case introduction gradually. Once the tech is reliable, go in for the phone/laptop/tablet market with super slim, foldable and luggable versions that make out current tech look like the stone age.

    But for now, it's baby steps, and a few companies are trying to run before they can walk!

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

      Plus, LG and Sony are both dying to have a big win in mobile phones.

    2. RFC822

      Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

      LG and Sony might have the idea right. Make a controllable setup such as a TV first. A TV is not getting lugged about on the bus, and so can get use case introduction gradually.

      But what on earth is the use case for a foldable TV?

      The whole rationale for creating a foldable phone is that it should be as small as possible when being carried around, but as large as possible when actually being used.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

        The only use case I have seen is the "projector screen" rollup TV that does not take away wall real estate but rolls up nicely into a box. There may also be a tiny argument for easier transportation when purchasing or moving house.

        As you, I am not convinced that this will turn out to be a killer feature informing purchase decisions. We have gotten used to 50-70 inches if black slab hanging off the wall.

        1. Teiwaz

          Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

          As you, I am not convinced that this will turn out to be a killer feature informing purchase decisions. We have gotten used to 50-70 inches if black slab hanging off the wall.

          And black slabs only a little smaller in our back pockets it seems.

          Perhaps if the manufacturers eager for refresh sales took a little more risk with their designs rather than trekking along the same wornout applesque design rut.

          This foldable was only really a little different in that it was a slab that folded out to be a bigger slab.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Facepalm

        Re: "Use case"

        There is not one, except as art/gadget/display of one's wealth or LG and Sony to test products.

        What is the use case of a green crayon? I mean, I use blue. Why would anyone use green? If they want to draw there are pencils, pens, oil paints or watercolours...

        Like... LG have a demonstration of a folding TV. It packs up into a soundbar sized case. Not ideal for everyone, but I could see those not wanting clutter, or those wanting it to fold away during other entertainment, wanting the thing.

        (PS, they also sell £/$80k TVs, what's the use case for a 80 inch TV I ask?! ;) ).

      3. MrXavia

        Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

        I can think of a use case,

        I have a fireplace but its slightly too high for a TV above to be comfortable to watch, I would love a TV that sat above the mantle and opened downwards in front of the fireplace (when the fire is not in use)

        I've considered projectors but that brings its own set of issues.

        1. ozreg

          Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

          Just get one of these:

          https://www.mantelmount.com/

          or these:

          https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01LX7NBPQ

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

          One of the worst places for a box of electronics is dangling above a heat source.

    3. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

      Have you looked at these rollable TVs though? They still have a large box sitting conspicuously on the floor where the rolling mechanism and rolled up TV goes. So they don't just disappear when not in use - they're there.

      The market blurb struggles to find reasons why people even need a TV that rolls up into box. Thus they pretend everyone would like to put their TV in front of a window overlooking a skyline, marina or something if it could be folded away. Why? Even if I did have such a view out of my apartment I don't see much purpose with blocking it with a huge box or the TV especially when few apartments would have cable or power points in front of a window anyway.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

        And most apartments have heating in front of the window, which does't mix well with electronic stuff.

    4. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

      Would it not be better to have two non-foldable screens with as close as possible to zero bezel at the joining edge?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

        Yes. But you cannot patent that... and these companies are all about the exclusivity/control. :(

      2. MrXavia

        Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

        I think that is certainly a better idea... with the right hinge it could fold flat also....

        1. Clunking Fist

          Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

          MrX, and one side could have a keyboard for ease of use.

      3. jelabarre59

        Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

        Would it not be better to have two non-foldable screens with as close as possible to zero bezel at the joining edge?

        After all, doesn't Samsung already make a phone with the stupid-ass display that curves around the edges, making it impossible to hold? So just make the stupid-ass display curve around the side that has the hinge.

    5. Been there, done that, it never ends

      Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

      My walls are covered with art (been collecting for 40+ years), except where the TVs take up wall space. I'd appreciate a rollable TV so I can use the wall space for art.

      1. druck Silver badge

        Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

        There are OLED screens which are so low power you can leave them on all the time showing art.

      2. jgarbo

        Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

        A true TV lover would roll up his Picassos. Can see them anytime.

      3. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

        Most of your art will roll up too!

    6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Good reasonable and balanced.

      Andrew's articles are usually worth reading. He has blown cold and hot over the foldables, having been initially very sceptical about the whole category and scathing of the price. It's not fashionable in the instagram age but there is nothing wrong with wait and see.

  3. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Facepalm

    Next?

    The "self-driving" car.

    1. Rafael #872397
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Next!

      The flying car.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Next!

        Well, if the self-driving car finds the proper cliff-edge, it can be both self-driving and flying.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Next!

          And - in some circumstances - pholdable.

          It might not unfold after this, though. Just like the phones the article is about.

        2. WolfFan Silver badge

          Re: Next!

          Well, if the self-driving car finds the proper cliff-edge, it can be both self-driving and flying.

          It'll be self-driving up until it finds the edge. It'll be flying afterwards, though not for long. Sir Isaac Newton will be doing the driving.

        3. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Next!

          "Well, if the self-driving car finds the proper cliff-edge, it can be both self-driving and flying."

          The Richard Hammond model.

  4. Spacedinvader
    FAIL

    Industry shudders: Do we have a big problem?

    Yes, you do. You keep coming out with shite nobody asks for. Or removing shite that we want to stay!

    Headphone jack? Expandable memory? Replaceable battery?

    No, have a foldable phone that is going to break the screen. Oh, and can we have two fuckin grand for it? Pretty please?

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Industry shudders: Do we have a big problem?

      Curious, isn't it. Headphone jack, memory and replaceable batteries aren't allowed because "we" want thinner phones. But as soon as "we" want foldable phones then, in their folded state, they can be much thicker an no one will mind.

      1. Captain Scarlet

        Re: Industry shudders: Do we have a big problem?

        I find these uncomfortable to hold and flimsy.

        I have actually replaced my old Motorola G3 with a G7 Power, the only thing I hate so far is the G3 had a brilliant case with a front flap attached to the back plate (Yes overpriced I agree but it did the job and didn't add any bulk to the phone) and no security updates so far (Come on Lenovo its a new phone ffs). Have to use some over the back case with a flap for the G7 which is kind of annoying.

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Industry shudders: Do we have a big problem?

        You can get all those things as long as you're ok with an Android phone...

        But I agree, I'd be more than happy if my phone was a few mm thicker if that meant a bigger battery.

      3. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Industry shudders: Do we have a big problem?

        And when we get thinner phones we put them in much larger cases! It does seem the Psion5 was the perfect size for a phone/PDA/Credit card holder.

    2. Persona Silver badge

      Re: Industry shudders: Do we have a big problem?

      It's the price that peeves me. For the last 5 decades We've seen electronics getting better and cheaper, yet the price of a new high end phone keeps going up and up. At this stage of the game I want to be able to buy a really good phone for < £100

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Industry shudders: Do we have a big problem?

        "At this stage of the game I want to be able to buy a really good phone for < £100"

        The major problem facing the industry is that you can. Actually, prices might be slightly higher than that, but a phone that sells for £150 can have comparable specs to the flagships. Of course, you're going to play a guessing game about how long security updates will come, but you get that on the higher-priced ones too. There is very little difference between phones made by different companies at different times. They're just flat slabs of glass that look the same and run most of the same code.

        I think one important element is that the computing-relevant specs of a phone are pretty unimportant. Of course, you can find a phone that is too slow to handle its tasks, but four cores vs eight cores or 4GB vs 6GB of RAM doesn't matter to most applications. Neither do the advances in cameras--while some people do actual serious photography with their phones and justifiably want the best camera for their needs, a lot of other people either don't use it at all or simply want the ability to quickly capture an image, so all they need in a camera is to end up with a recognizable image at the end. When smartphones were new, you could usually tell when you bought a new one that it had a lot more processing power than the old one. That is no longer the case.

        Meanwhile, companies think that any change they make justifies a massive price increase. The mainstream manufacturers think that their new even more high-res screen should be worth a bundle. Palm think making a very small android phone that some people, myself included, would actually want justifies a 200% profit margin, which makes me lose interest immediately. Companies who used to make the cheap and introductory android devices think they can get a lot more money by making the software a bit nicer and multiplying the price by ten. I don't know why they think this, but I don't think it will end well for them.

    3. Unep Eurobats
      Coat

      Headphone jack?

      Don't call me Jack.

      1. jelabarre59

        Re: Headphone jack?

        Don't call me Jack.

        Would you prefer "Headphone Tokyo"?

  5. JimmyPage
    Stop

    Sigh. Rinse and repeat.

    Before fripperies like this, manufacturers really need to nail:

    1) accessibility and useabilty issues, as their core demographic get older, slower, with poorer eyesight

    and

    2) battery life, since smartphones are so ingrained in modern life.

    all else can wait.

    Now, where's my consultancy for telling manufacturers the real deal, not what they want to hear.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Core Demographic

      @Jimmy - the core demographic is that group of people which will pay money for a new phone every year or so and will then subscribe to paid-for services. The older gits (like me) are happy to hang to an iPhone SE for years as long as it does phone, SMS, mail, music and a bit of internet to solve pub arguments. No one's making much money out of me for tech: I'm SIM only so don't get bothered for upgrades. I haven't bought a new smartphone for a couple of years, and that was a spare SE. I don't subscribe to Netflix, Spotify, etc. and if I buy music it's disc shaped.

      Their core demographic wants something newer, thinner, <insert something that looks good on a big screen presentation>, every couple of years - or at least they are conned into thinking that they do either by peer pressure or marketing/advertising. The problem that the companies have is coming up with something that ticks all these boxes and will convince people to part with serious money. The annoying thing is that the foldable phones are quite chunky in their folded state and if they made a normal phone that thick they could put in a headphone socket and card slot and a huge and removable battery.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Core Demographic

        The problem is the kids are getting poorer as we get older. So the tech titans simply can't afford to ignore or reject the older, richer users. It's not just politics where the older folk get to stamp their will on the youngsters. It's tech too.

      2. Teiwaz

        Re: Core Demographic

        Their core demographic wants something newer, thinner, <insert something that looks good on a big screen presentation>, every couple of years

        They're only targeting Marketing types now?

        Can't see that as a a winner....unless Marketing types are taking over (much as it was thought lawyers would become the dominant species in the US a few years ago).

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Sigh. Rinse and repeat.

      > Before fripperies like this, manufacturers really need to nail: 1) accessibility and useabilty issues, as their core demographic get older, slower, with poorer eyesight

      I'd have thought that a device with a larger screen *would* be useful for people with poorer eyesight (and perhaps failing dexterity, too)?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: device with a larger screen

        Exactly. It's possible now to make a device with a bigger screen. So let's start with those, and then look to folding them.

  6. Alan Bourke

    Like self-driving cars, isn't it?

    A technology that's nowhere near even close to viable aiming to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

    1. David 155

      Re: Like self-driving cars, isn't it?

      Over a million people a year dying from road accidents isnt a problem?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Like self-driving cars, isn't it?

        yeah because a "self-driving car" hasn't killed anyone yet. anyone.

      2. MrXavia

        Re: Like self-driving cars, isn't it?

        Lets just take the UK only as an example, its about 1700 deaths a year, with 30 million cars on the road, so actually the problem is actually quite a small problem in the UK.

        Compare the UK to other countries and you see the UK is very safe, others are not safe..

        The solutions (in the UK at least) are going to be related to road planning, driver education and public transport improvements

    2. Steve Button

      Re: Like self-driving cars, isn't it?

      "Nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day. An additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled."

      A problem that doesn't exist? Really?

      1. MarthaFarqhar

        Re: Like self-driving cars, isn't it?

        I'd love a self driving car. My licence has been suspended on medical grounds, but the chance not to use public transport I'd buy one in a jiffy.

      2. GruntyMcPugh

        Re: Like self-driving cars, isn't it?

        @Steve Button

        So self driving cars are going to lessen road deaths? In busy urban environments, I cant see it, certainly not while they are co-existing with regular human driven vehicles anyway. I can't see it in the rural environments I frequent either. I'm holidaying in rural Norfolk right now,

        and the road to the house we rented has no road markings whatsoever, and is single track with passing places,..... self driving cars are going to struggle with that, so what happens, the car freaks out, and the driver, who is inexperienced because the car usually does the driving has to take over? That sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. So that leaves motorways, which are already safer to drive on than urban roads. Technology can reduce road deaths, sure, simply having all driving data recorded would be start, if drivers knew they were being watched, they'd stop speeding and taking risks.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Like self-driving cars, isn't it?

        "A problem that doesn't exist? Really?"

        Yes, really.

        Numbers based on the entire world are incredibly misleading. Have you seen some of the dirt tracks that people in other countries call "roads". 60mph on a one lane cliff road with buses and lorries doing the same in the "other" lane. Is it appropriate to include the deaths there?

        The tech is going to be very expensive when it finally debuts and will be usable only in very limited situations. It also isn't going to let people nod off or whip out the tablet and check out what's trending on social media. If people disconnect from active driving, they will have no chance of avoiding being the next vehicle that plows into the back of a large tailback. Besides, there is a really good form of transportation that's ideal for automation: trains. They can't stop fast enough anyway and can't swerve to avoid an obstruction. They are also heavy enough to plow right on through.

        Lives being saved through self-driving cars is just a theoretical number at this point. A bit of ice here or a tire carcass there and the program may decide it would rather be in the Bahamas and just checks out. What does it care?

    3. Swiss Anton

      aiming to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

      Personally I can't wait for 5G. Does anyone have any clues as to why we need 5G?

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: aiming to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

        Mine goes up to 11G.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: aiming to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

          You should buy an HP phone then. They really have "all the G's".

      2. uncle sjohie

        Re: aiming to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

        For your IoT devices of course.

      3. sed gawk Silver badge
        Joke

        Belay that loose talk, researchers need to eat too ;)

        As a software person, I'm a bit non plused by 5G, personally, I'd rather FTTP and internal Wifi.

        That said for a year now, I've only had a 4G mobile internet connection, and it works.

        5G allegedly is to support the use case where everyone is mobile first, and all the devices are directly addressable.

        In theory the rationale is that the existing 4G doesn't have some handover features that 5G adds.

        The antenna is quite different and there is a lot of radio engineering stuff, e.g. beam steering, and use of additional spectrum, which will eventually result in improvements across the board.

        In the meantime, grant proposal won't write themselves.

  7. Flak
    FAIL

    I so don't need that

    What marketing genius came up with the idea that this would be a mass product?

    Double the screen size, but (almost) double the thickness - how does that look and feel in your average back pocket?

    The price is crazy for a consumer product, too and therefore the proposition is just not appealing to me at all.

    I will stick to my (perhaps slightly boring) entry level phone, which provides all the features I am looking for along with some excellent value for money...

    Just my tuppence...

    1. Captain Scarlet

      Re: I so don't need that

      I thought the idea of a flagship was to get some interest in the brand, so the mid range phones then do most of the selling and make the most money. I assume this is why some brands have done away with a flagship, as there are always people who will buy anything with a Sony or Nokia logo on.

      1. BebopWeBop
        Joke

        Re: I so don't need that

        Are there mid range Apples?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I so don't need that

          Apple sell older model iPhones as their mid-range option. The iPhone X and XS plus accounted for only 22% of iPhone sales in 2018, 8 and 8+ was 32%, and plenty of 7, 6, 5 etc making up the rest.

          1. Captain Scarlet
            Mushroom

            Re: I so don't need that

            Damnit I was about to troll and say no, but I think you are correct.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I so don't need that

      > What marketing genius came up with the idea that this would be a mass product?

      Nobody did. Which is why why it was priced at nearly $2K and only made in limited numbers.

      But hey, if you're confident that there's enough technophilic people rich enough to spend thousands on a whim (I understand there's some millionaires in the technology sector), why not use that to offset your development costs?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    However, this one has started to worry the entire industry.

    I have started to worry about humanity.

    brainwashed by the media, the lure of StarTrek foldable phones, which clearly was an unachievable target.

    Essentially the press set this up to fail, as it's double clickbait bonus multiplier. All these idiots had to do was peel the no removable film off, or otherwise intentionally try and break their freebie demos, and voila, perfect clickbait.

    I feel sorry for the morons that can't see this unfolding before their eyes, (pun intended)

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: However, this one has started to worry the entire industry.

      "the lure of StarTrek foldable phones"

      Star Trek gave us flip phones and we've done those. I think the recent interest in foldable devices comes from the ones on Westworld (eg), which I have to admit looked really cool.

      Of course, it's a easy to make it look cool when it's a prop, not a real device.

      1. Colin Ritman

        Re: However, this one has started to worry the entire industry.

        That's what the idiots fail to grasp. These were never going to be Westworld devices in generation 1 (or for the foreseeable future), they were always going to be chunky bricks that open out.

  9. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Facepalm

    So nobody spotted it?

    The odd quirk in the folding robot video?

    They folded it perfectly square everytime. Who honestly would fold it back up by placing on a flat surface and using two hands to fold it? Next to no-one and rarely at that. Even folding it like a book with two hands is not going to be perfect even with little or no twisting stress placed on the hinge. Then try doing it one handed...

    It was also opened and closed at a constant speed rather that pressed together at high speed like a clasp purse.

    Very much felt like they haven't spent time looking at how people really interact with similar shaped products and just focused on making it open and close.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So nobody spotted it?

      I noticed that as well, the only users that would hold a phone when closed in that position come from the church of Apple but then again a £2000 phone makes a good false idol. Maybe the next set of commandments aren't coming on a tablet this time, and behold he spoketh to us through the burning note seven and delivered his message through the cracks of my fold.

    2. KillStuffMount

      Re: So nobody spotted it?

      That was precisely my thought. I'm not even remotely technical, my background is languages then politics degree followed by working in the finance sector, but even I could see that the robot was making perfect 90 to 180 degree arcs in the exact same manner every time, not inserting a thumb into the bottom of the phone and opening it with uneven pressure at the nearest edge.

      If an arty-farty duffer like ME can spot it, why the bleedin' 'ell didn't Samsung?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So nobody spotted it?

        Languages, politics and (in my case) theology tell you about what people actually do as distinct from what they are supposed to do.

        P J O'Rourke described South Korea as a country where everybody stayed at home on Friday evening to do their homework. I think that is where the problem may lie. A nation that follows the instructions to the letter.

    3. Woza
      Joke

      Re: So nobody spotted it?

      Sounds like a simple fix - we just need to improve the people using it, and the phone will work perfectly!

      Either that, or this a cunning way for Samsung to create a market for an add-on device which does the folding (perfectly) for you.

      (Perhaps I should patent that idea before Apple gets around to it - the iFolder).

    4. Inventor of the Marmite Laser

      Re: So nobody spotted it?

      You're Pholding it wrong

  10. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    That folding robot video

    It's quite clear to me that the folding robot is not anywhere near a real life test. It's doing a "perfect" fold consistently using a precise and even speed of fold every time.

    Anyone who has ever done product stress testing knows you have to introduce variations and randomness into that sort of mechanical testing.

    Considering the range of industry and products the Samsung group is involved in, I'd bet there are some Samsung R&D people looking at the video and wondering why the hell the phone division didn't talk to any other divisions about this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That folding robot video

      I suspect another problem with the folding robot tester is that it is probably working in a "clean" enviornment. Stick a folded pholdie in a pocket and theres a strong probability that bits of dirt (that you can invariably find at bottom of pockets in my experience) will get into the fold and then get drawn further into the mechanism when unfolded. So pholdable may work perfectly for 1000s of cycles when folded in ideal conditions by the robot but in the real world it may have problems

  11. BebopWeBop
    Holmes

    I predict on Huwei units turning up on ebay as 'rare collectibles' in the 'not quite vintage computing' section.

  12. Arctic fox
    Headmaster

    I believe that the problem the industry are facing...............

    ..............is that their customers have matured along with the market. By this I mean that the punter no longer sees the point in upgrading annually. Furthermore, there is a noticible reduction in the phenomenen of "Fanboiism". Where are the annual stories of enormous lines of eager purchasers outside (for example) the Apple Store on launch day, high fiving as they come out with their new shiney? The punters are interested in what their app collection gives them, not the hardware any longer. It's what their phone can run which interests them, not the phone itself. If it will run their favourite applications properly, that is what they care about. I am certain that even if the "pholding" phone was easy to produce they would get a couple of years of above average sales and then that to would end up commodotized, no longer attracting large sales at even larger prices. The hardware manufacturers are on a treadmill that they cannot get off of.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I believe that the problem the industry are facing...............

      That's the same as the PC industry for average home users, they only upgraded in the end if the software didn't run or the PC became slow and they didn't know any other options. New phones aren't anything special, no one sees them as a status symbol, in fact it's the opposite, some young people these days see displays of wealth as distasteful.

      1. Ashentaine

        Re: I believe that the problem the industry are facing...............

        >New phones aren't anything special, no one sees them as a status symbol, in fact it's the opposite, some young people these days see displays of wealth as distasteful.

        The public perception of cellphones is gradually going the way cars went over the last couple decades. Once they were a status symbol that not everyone could afford and gave a feeling of freedom, but now they're just viewed as a burdensome appliance that eats money every month whether you use it or not, is owned by everyone else and impresses very few even if you have the most expensive one out there.

  13. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese

    In the US, the average iPhone owner now upgrades only every four years – a remarkable stat

    I suspect that the author means remarkable in that the upgrade cycle would be expected to be more frequent. However, given the price of the devices nowadays, it seems remarkable to me that people would be prepared to spend all that money and then write it off for a replacement after such a short period of time

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Most people I know sell their old iPhones (for a third to a half what they paid) or pass them on to family members, so they're not completely written off. Still a fair bit of value in an older iPhone.

    2. WolfFan Silver badge

      I have a four-year-old iPhone which still works just fine. I have no intention of replacing it for at least another two years.

      I recently saw someone replying to obvious troll-bait on USENET. This particular troll-bait was more obvious than normal, as it was cross-posted to Android, iPhone, Windows, Mac, and Linux newsgroups. The idiot I'm thinking of replied from a Linux group; he insisted that cell phones, all of them, should have replaceable batteries and blasted Apple and Samsung for gluing down batteries, as well as having very expensive phones. He said that he wanted to keep his phone for more than 2 years, and required a replaceable battery as after two years his battery was dead. He further stated that lithium batteries are good for only 2000-2500 full charges, which is why they die in two years. Hmm. 2000-2500 full charges... hmm. If I do a full charge every day, that's 2000-2500 days. That's 5.5 to 6.8 _years_. According to his own figures, he had to be doing at least three complete charges on his phone _every day_ to kill the battery in two years. My four-year-old iPhone 6 (not a 6S, just a 6) usually has between 60 and 75% charge left at the end of the day. If I've been using it especially hard, perhaps as low as 40%. I could usually get away with charging every second day instead of every day, except in times of heavy usage. In times of light usage I could charge once every three or four days. Some people are clearly abusing the hell out of their phones, which is why they replace them every two years or even more often. Me, I want that expensive pocket computer to last a long, long, _long_ time.

  14. GeordieSteve

    Saw that coming

    When I first saw these phones, my first thoughts were about the durability of the display. After all plastic is not renowned for being hard wearing, and once the plasticisers evaporate and UV light has done its work, I could not imagine the devices lasting long. Must admit I thought the Huawei with its external display was going to be the first model to be crucified, but then time will tell.

  15. DrXym Silver badge

    Not surprising in the least

    A regular phone has a screen that doesn't move around and is protected by a sheet of glass. Replacing that with a bendy bit of plastic moving over hinges was obviously inviting the plastic to scratch, crease, crack, snag, warp or come away from its contacts.

    The only saving grace for Samsung is they're not the only ones in the same boat. Huawei is next and their screen is on the outside where it's likely to have even less protection.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Not surprising in the least

      It will have less protection from stuff on the outside of the device, so it might get scratched, but it has an easier folding characteristic because the screen part doesn't need to fold completely flat but can instead curve. This means that it's less likely to simply crack in half, develop a crease, or interfere with the hinge opening properly. If they build the hinge properly such that the screen stays connected to it, it could also better withstand particulates getting into the screen from the hinge area. Of course, there are a number of ways to get this horribly wrong, and I would not be surprised to hear that they've found one of those. Still, outward-facing screen doesn't have to be a problem.

  16. regregular

    They want their pholdable phablet phones back?

    They will be thrilled to receive the one iFixit has torn down I guess...

    https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Samsung+Galaxy+Fold+Teardown/122600

  17. steelpillow Silver badge

    Planet

    Can't help wondering what Planet's sales for the Gemini clamshell, whose other half is a real keyboard, would be right now if they had gone mainstream retail instead of hiding on Indiegogo.

    Will be interesting to watch the takeup of their upgraded Cosmo Communicator, even so.

  18. naive Silver badge

    Management culture must be something at Samsung

    Ferdinand Piëch used to drive every new model for a few weeks in the time he was CEO of VW, and keelhauled the engineers responsible if he detected serious issues.

    Maybe Samsung management should do the same.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Management culture must be something at Samsung

      Piëch wasn't very good on nitrogen oxide emissions, though, was he?

  19. eswan

    Nobody said it yet?

    Fine.

    You're folding it wrong.

  20. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Obligatory CommitStrip

    Sums it up perfectly.

  21. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I voted with my money

    I bought a Moto G6 Play that gets a demonstrated 5-6 days out of the battery and has a headphone jack. It's even got a removable SD card, though it's rather hard to get to. I only wish it were bigger, but I'm pretty satisfied.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: I voted with my money

      All I want is a phone with a good battery life and a headphone jack.

      Currently using a Xiaomi Redmi 4A - need to do a factory reset to clean out 2 years' of crud out.

      But it still is going strong.

  22. illuminatus

    It is quite interesting that...

    in the face of all the breathless hoopla about foldable displays, Apple has remained tight-lipped.

    It isn't a shock. Apple are never first to market as a rule, but take some time to get something shiny (and profitable) there. There is little indication that they have any enthusiasm for foldable, and the mass market, like it or not, do tend to pick up on Apple's lead. Look at payment services: there wasn't much real take up until Apple Pay arrived, then it started to grow. Samsung are desperately trying to innovate to steal a march in the high-end, fighting against apple on one hand, and Chinese competitors on the other. It needs to show something new. Perhaps they've overstretched a little too quickly for now.

    1. slartybartfast

      Re: It is quite interesting that...

      A number of years ago I would have said Apple let the competition be first, then they come out with something vastly improved and smarter than the competition that, eventually, is copied by the competition. Hmmm...those were the days.

  23. steviebuk Silver badge

    So...

    ...we've gone from clamshell (foldable phones) to iPhone style smart phones, now back to clamshell (foldable phones) again.

    Hmm.

  24. Stress-tester-of-IT

    Easy solution

    Or you know they could just lower their prices back down to what more people would be willing to pay.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps selling phones with plain vanilla Android OS would be attractive, ie without non-removable bloatware, non-removable carrier special apps their marketing idiots have decided people can't do without or that "leverage" an"enhanced" or "differentiated" "user experience" (or similar bollocks). There certainly seems to be a huge preferwnce for crap-less ROMS amongst folk prepared to flash their own.

    Add to that an undertaking to provide updates until the phone hardware can't support it and not leave punters in the lurch.

  26. slartybartfast

    Fixing a problem that doesn't exist

    I honestly don't know why Samsung and Huawei think a foldable phone is a good idea. Who in their right mind will be walking along a street with the thing folded out? Firstly it's impractical and secondly, asking to get stolen. Sure you could take your phone with you and unfold it when you get to a coffee shop/your friends house/your holiday destination but for a lot less money, a phone and separate tablet would do the trick. As for the back pocket dilemma with a tablet, many people carry a bag/rucksack when they go out. If you don't carry a bag and, for example, are going to meet some friends at a coffee shop or pub, what the heck do you need a large screen for anyway? I own a phone and tablet and rarely need the tablet if I'm going out. I only take the tablet if I'm staying over at someone's house.

    This is pointless (and expensive) tech that the phone companies are trying to convince people they can't do without.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: Fixing a problem that doesn't exist

      Indeed. I only use my tablet in private!

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Fixing a problem that doesn't exist

      It's certainly pointless for me, but some people want it. They want a device that they can carry in a pocket but has the screen size of a tablet. They have reasons, and though I don't share them or even understand what the reasons are, they exist for some people to want the device. If they want it and a company can build it, it seems useless to complain about its existence. Just join with me and don't buy it. Of course, this all hinges (pun originally not intended) on the companies' ability to actually make the thing so it has some semblance of a lifetime.

  27. Howard Hanek
    Childcatcher

    Gypsies

    Millenia ago Gypsies tried that and finally settled on a crystal ball. They still haven't fixed the brightness problem. It's often too dim to see clearly.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Samsung isn't stupid or desperate?

    I think this episode clearly demonstrates that statement isn't true. They were clearly desperate to be first with the folding phone - to the extent that they held a special event a week before the Mobile World Congress where they knew others would be demonstrating folding phones, so they could announce a week earlier.

    That's also why it failed so badly so quickly once in the hands of real people. They obviously did pretty much no testing of their own, because they also wanted their launch date before anyone else's which didn't leave time for testing. Their strategy appeared to be "launch and cross your fingers".

    Comparing it to the Note 7 recall is extremely unfair, however. They had to recall a million phones already sold to end users, plus many more that were shipped and sitting on shelves or manufactured and waiting to ship. By comparison this was a "recall" of a probably a few dozen phones from reviewers and a delay of a product launch buyers would have known is bleeding edge immature "risky" technology.

    Now depending on what the actual issue(s) are they might end up having to write off the production run, but for a $2000 niche product we're probably talking 10,000 of them that had been made so far, not two million plus Note 7s that were ultimately written off. I doubt this writeoff will even warrant mention in their quarterly results, while the Note 7's was so large it made a material impact in their quarterly earnings!

    The main thing they did wrong here was letting marketing dictate schedule, so these problems were public all over the world instead of known only to Samsung employees who were testing them. That's the downside of getting all that free publicity for being "first", you also get free publicity when you face plant.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Samsung isn't stupid or desperate?

      There's nothing "extremely unfair" about criticising a major manufacturer that launches, with great fanfare, a $2000 smartphone with a unique selling point that simply does not work.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Samsung isn't stupid or desperate?

        I didn't say the criticism was unfair, just the comparison to the Note 7 fiasco.

  29. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

    Working backwards

    Technology must be made to suit the user, not the user to the technology. I suspect this is a case where Samsung has some technology and they are looking for a way to market it. See this video from at least 1:30 onwards:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FF-tKLISfPE&feature=watch-vrec

  30. jgarbo
    Trollface

    So testing is old fashioned?

    In the old days, we designed something, tested the prototype to destruction, learned from it, then tested it again. If it worked as per specs, we let it loose on public testers. If it survived, we called marketing. What have I missed?

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