Xiaomi, OPPO Developing Foldable Android Smartphones: Report

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Xiaomi and OPPO are presently actively developing foldable Android smartphones with the intent of commercializing them in the near future, South Korean outlet ETNews reports, citing unnamed industry sources. As is the case with Samsung and Huawei’s widely reported projects, the first-generation foldable handsets from OPPO and Xiaomi will largely rely on hinges and be conceptually similar to last year’s ZTE Axon M, though both should provide a more refined take on the hinge-based formula and use a single bendable screen instead of two separate display panels, insiders claim.

OPPO and Xiaomi have already contacted mobile suppliers in order to work out a plan for obtaining key components for the creation of such handsets. While LG Display is presently being considered as the supplier for foldable OLED panels by both companies, Chinese firms are more likely to end up sourcing those components, as per the same report. While no product roadmaps have been mentioned by any sources, neither Xiaomi nor OPPO are likely to release a foldable Android smartphone before next year at the earliest. Huawei is rumored to be the first company to do so later this year, followed by Samsung in early 2019. The two tech giants were previously said to be working on devices meant to be folded inwards, whereas Xiaomi is now understood to be experimenting with the concept of an outfolding smartphone.

The new report provides no information on the foldable handset type OPPO is supposedly developing, though some of the company’s recent patents may provide more clues in that regard, pointing to a device with an OLED screen whose top third can be folded outwards, with an unconventional rotating camera also being part of one of the company’s concepts. Bendable smartphones are expected to be introduced as niche devices with high price tags in the near future but may move closer toward mainstream popularity over the course of the next decade as the technologies they’re based on continue advancing.