Chinese manufacturer Vivo appears to be ready to join the growing list of smartphone makers that will debut their first foldable handsets later this year.
The company reportedly plans to introduce at least one such device under the iQOO name in the coming months, with the moniker in question marking the start of an entirely new sub-brand which could possibly span multiple price brackets.
The image above surfaced on Chinese social media earlier this week and are being circulated as the depictions of iQOO's first smartphone, a high-end Android tablet featuring a foldable display panel. The presence of Google's ecosystem still doesn't make its user interface too familiar-looking as Vivo is understood to have heavily modified Android in order to account for the unique functionality of its upcoming device.
All other manufacturers interested in pursuing bendable mobile devices in the near future will have to embrace a similar software strategy, though Google is already heavily rumored to be working on adding native support for such unconventional screens and should debut it as early as late summer with the first release of Android Q.
While none of that makes the alleged iQOO handset particularly unique relative to other such products expected to hit the market in the coming months, one major selling point Vivo may be aiming for is its starting price; despite the high costs of implementing bendable screens into contemporary phones, Vivo has an established track record of impressive cost-cutting that it usually uses to pass on most savings on to consumers, hence beating its rivals at the value game.
It's debatable whether the firm would be able to pursue that exact strategy with something as high-end as a foldable phone is in 2019 seeing how small-sized bendable screens remain an expensive proposition even for industry leader Samsung whose first device utilizing those solutions should rely on in-house panels and debut as early as this month, most likely as an unnamed prototype.
And while most signs suggest anything remotely close to an "affordable" Android handset with a foldable screen won't be happening this year, recent rumors point to the iQOO brand working on such an offering and is planning to price its first product at around $750. What's unclear is whether those two claims pertain to the same device but the most likely answer is a resounding "no." As things stand right now, the foldable iQOO seems way too good to be true.
Foldable phones appear to be the next "big thing" in the mobile industry but their high production costs are expected to keep them away from the mainstream audience for some time now. E.g. Samsung's seminal device that may be advertised as the Galaxy Fold or Galaxy Winner will supposedly feature a price tag close to $2,000, according to numerous industry insiders. The tech giant is reportedly looking to advertise the device to gamers and other niche groups that may be willing to pay extra for such experimental hardware.
Besides Samsung and Vivo, Huawei, ZTE, and LG also previously signaled they'll be launching at least one bendable Android handset before the end of 2019, with all of those products being likely to debut as relatively expensive offerings.