- The most exciting new technology of 2019, so far, has been foldable smartphones.
- The biggest phone makers in the world, including Samsung and Huawei, unveiled their first foldable phones last month.
- While these new phone designs are certainly exciting, it really makes the most sense to wait at least a year before buying one.
Everyone’s talking about foldable smartphones right now.
But just because these new phone designs will soon be available for public consumption, it doesn’t mean you should be one of the first to rush in.
In late February, we got a barrage of announcements from smartphone makers about their plans to release foldable smartphones in 2019.
Samsung went first at Unpacked 2019, surprising the crowd that was expecting to see the new Galaxy S10 phones by preceding that announcement with the new Galaxy Fold, a foldable smartphone that starts at $US1,980.
That same weekend, at Mobile World Congress, Huawei — the second largest smartphone maker in the world, next to Samsung — unveiled its foldable Mate X. That phone will cost a whopping $US2,600 when it becomes available later this year.
Several Chinese companies, including TCL and Oppo, have shown off prototypes of foldable phones, with plans to release fully functional models in the coming years if there’s enough demand.
Foldable smartphones are exciting. We haven’t seen many new smartphone designs come along over the last decade, so to see a new idea so fleshed-out — a phone that can transform into a tablet so you can do more work, or play games more comfortably — is something a lot of people will happily pay for.
Still, as great as these phones are likely to be, it’s best you don’t buy a foldable smartphone in 2019. It makes sense to wait — for several reasons.
First of all, these phones are asking for a lot of money up front — roughly two to three times what you’d pay for a high-end smartphone. Keep in mind, all of these phones are running the same software underneath.
Secondly, we don’t know what the repair process will be like for these phones. Given the high cost of the phone to start, would you also be ok being phone-less, potentially for several weeks, as you ship your phone to the manufacturer and wait for it to return?
Repair costs are also likely to be high for these first-generation models. These phones are using brand-new components, so replacing them if something goes wrong will probably not come cheap.
Finally, you need your phone to be reliable, and first-generation tech is extremely fallible. Smartphones are invaluable devices, so for something that costs so much, you want to limit the risk of something going wrong. But manufacturers typically learn a lot from first-generation models, especially in terms of what to do and what to avoid in the future.
It’s impossible to foresee what kinds of issues foldable phones may experience — maybe the hinge breaks, or one of the many cameras malfunctions — but you probably don’t want to be the guinea pig, especially given how much you’re paying for the phone up front.
Foldable smartphones are exciting, but it really makes the most sense to wait. Manufacturers will work out the kinks over time, and prices will lower to meet demand. Don’t rush in just to be part of the trend; it will likely cost you more than you think.
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