The smartphone manufacturers are clearly convinced that folding phones are the next big thing, but reaction from the public has been pretty mixed, with lots of cynicism and naysaying.
However, a new study from Mobiles.co.uk has proved the manufacturers right - there is strong demand for flexible screens.
The survey asked 2,000 people in the UK the features they most want on a phone in 2019. Of those, 23 per cent – more than one in five, almost a quarter – said a flexible screen is the dream feature they most want on a phone right now.
Considering other features in the survey included "a phone that hovers above the ground when dropped," "holographic projections" and the ability to change colour (!), it's kind of amazing anyone said flexible screens at all.
Here's the top 10:
1. Ability to hover above ground if dropped (37 per cent)
2. One-way glass so only I can see my screen (26 per cent)
3. Holographic projections (24 per cent)
4. Modular i.e. ability to upgrade individual elements (23 per cent)
5. Flexible screens (23 per cent)
6. Weather sensors (22 per cent)
7. Built in stress level monitors (19 per cent)
8. Ability to change colour (19 per cent)
9. A camera that captures hologram video messages (13 per cent)
10. Transparent design (7 per cent)
The fact that flexible screens are considered as desirable as some of those distinctly futuristic features, and the fact that they're about to hit the market, means the reaction to bendy phones is likely to be very good this year.
However, that doesn't mean they'll sell in great numbers. In fact, they probably won't sell much at all at first. The flexible phones we've seen so far have a pretty hefty early adopter tax: Samsung's Galaxy Fold is about £1800, Huawei's Mate X is about £2,000, and even Motorola's little clamshell Razr revival is reported to cost over a grand.
Confounding the cost is the fact that we just don't know yet how breakable or repairable flexible phones are going to be. Understandably, people don't want to drop £2k on something that might smash in a week and cost another £500 to fix.
Andrew Cartledge from Mobiles.co.uk comments:
"Going back ten years, we would have never thought it would be possible to achieve what we can now do with smartphones in the palm of our hand, so it’s always exciting to think about what the next ten years will have in store.
This year’s MWC certainly hasn’t disappointed and it looks as though the smartphone industry is beginning to offer people features that up until now they’ve only dreamed of."
The survey also found that more than half (58 per cent) of us consider a long-lasting battery the most impressive feature on a phone and over two thirds (68 per cent) find it the most useful, yet you're not all going to buy the chonky Energizer, are you? Just goes to show you can't always ask people what they want and expect an accurate answer (but don't quote Henry Ford saying his customers wanted 'faster horses,' that one's been debunked).
What's your dream smartphone feature? Let us know in the comments.