Smartphones are usually associated with the “chocolate bar” form factor, and this has been the case ever since touchscreens became the main input method for mobile devices. However, some OEMs have entertained the idea of creating different form factors for smart mobile devices, and eventually, this led to the creation of smartphones with slide-out keyboards, as well as curved terminals such as the ones in the LG G Flex series. Nevertheless, over the past few years, big players such as Samsung have also worked on improving flexible display technology for “foldable” smartphones, and the same company is also known for patenting several foldable smartphone concepts. But, interestingly enough, today’s report focuses on Oppo – a Chinese smartphone manufacturer with a desire for experimenting with new concepts -, and the company’s new foldable smartphone prototype.
Oppo has apparently been working on a smartphone prototype with a foldable display since August 2015, and reportedly, the first working prototype was ready by February 2016. Not much is known regarding the mysterious smartphone, aside from the details revealed in the picture above. Needless to say, the Oppo smartphone prototype is large enough to be considered a tablet, but we won’t hold that against it considering the current stages of development. The prototype consists of two equally sized “halves” connected by a hinge and accommodates a 7-inch foldable screen with an unknown radius of curvature. It’s unclear where the panel originates from or if it has been developed in-house, but it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Samsung or LG would be the main suppliers given these companies’ efforts over the past few years to advance flexible display technology. In any case, it should be noted that the prototype also appears to feature a front-facing camera, but again, details are missing.
Although Oppo is clearly experimenting with new concepts, there’s no guarantee that the company will manage to turn the prototype into a commercially-viable product. Nevertheless, Oppo made a name for itself partly thanks to its bold approaches towards new technologies. Oppo was the first smartphone maker to introduce the idea of a rotating camera with the Oppo N1, and was also among the first companies to create and use fast charging technologies, called VOOC. With that in mind, Oppo could very well become the first smartphone maker to bring foldable handsets into the mainstream, but judging by the looks of the prototype this probably won’t happen anytime soon.