In short: Huawei hopes its foldable Android smartphones will eventually make laptops obsolete, according to Richard Yu, Chief Executive Officer of the technology giant’s consumer electronics business group. In a recent interview with German outlet Die Welt, Mr. Yu said consumers are still reliant on laptops because their phone screens are too small, though a bendable handset would have the advantage of offering more screen real estate while remaining relatively portable. Huawei will commercialize such a device in less than a year, the industry veteran said.
Background: Recent reports suggested Huawei may announce its first bendable Android handset as early as late 2018, though Mr. Yu’s latest comments on the matter are indicative of a 2019 launch. While Samsung is hence expected to deliver the world’s first consumer-grade bendable smartphone, the two rivals are likely to debut radically different products; whereas Mr. Yu is now talking about Huawei’s desire to eventually provide a laptop alternative in a smartphone form factor, Samsung’s mobile chief DJ Koh recently specifically said the South Korean conglomerate is interested in using flexible displays and related technologies to create an entirely new product that won’t rival laptops or tablets but coexist with them. The specifics of both products are still vague, though Samsung is now rumored to be planning an official unveiling of its foldable smartphone in November.
Impact: While Huawei’s goal of rivaling laptops may sound ambitious, so were the company’s ambitions to overtake Apple as the world’s second-largest smartphone vendor several years back, yet that’s precisely what it managed to accomplish for two consecutive quarters now. As the very concept of flexible smartphone bodies effectively resets the mobile design game, the handsets of the future may end up being significantly more varied than what’s the case today, provided that form factor truly becomes the norm, which still isn’t a given.