It looks like the next big thing in smartphones will be devices that fold, and the first company that started to talk seriously about bringing them out in the next year was Samsung. Now several other smartphone makers are standing up and saying they too will be bringing devices with folding screens to market with the latest being Huawei. Huawei's CEO Richard Yu has stated that the company already has a working prototype.
The Huawei device isn't ready for prime time just yet, but could be ready to launch as early as next year. There have been rumors that the Samsung folding screen smartphone could debut at CES 2018 in January.
Yu said that the smartphone needs a better screen and a better mechanical design, and that the sample out now uses a pair of screens with a slight gap between them. Hu said, "We have two screens. But we still have a small gap [between the screens]. That's not good, and we should get rid of that gap."
ZTE recently launched a smartphone called the Axon M that uses a pair of screens and unfolds to make a single larger screen with a gap between them. It sounds as if the Huawei prototype is a similar device. Huawei isn't a huge player in the smartphone world in the U.S., but it is a massive player globally, especially in its home market of China. That means Huawei certainly has the cash and marketing muscle behind it to bring a flexible, folding screen smartphone to market.
In fact, Yu thinks that his company will eventually pass Apple and Samsung as the largest smartphone maker in the world. Considering its popularity in China and the fact that China is one of the biggest growth markets in the entire smartphone realm, that goal can certainly be met.
"We will overtake them definitely," Yu said. "That's our destiny. Maybe I'm not humble ... but nobody can stop us."
Huawei does face some challenges in becoming as big, or bigger than Apple and Samsung in the U.S. The company doesn't get the same carrier support that the other major brands get and it has a black eye in the States by name association with the ban on its networking gear. That ban had to do with fears that the Chinese government might have backdoors in the network hardware it could use to steal government or trade secrets.
LG is reportedly working on folding screens for a future iPhone model.