New video from JerryRigEverything demonstrates critical design flaws of foldable smartphones
Many people in the tech community have claimed that foldable smartphones are the future. If that’s true, then the future will be more fragile than the present.
JerryRigEverything, a YouTube channel that features durability tests and teardowns of several smartphones, recently took a look at the Royole Flexpai, the world’s first commercially available folding smartphone. The channel’s tests pointed out some major design flaws with foldables that might plague the form factor and keep it out of users’ pockets for a little while.
One thing Zack Nelson, the brains behind JerryRigEverything, tests on every smartphone he sees is screen durability. Using picks that climb the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, Zack scratches smartphone screens to see how prone the glass is to damage from ordinary objects like keys and coins. While most smartphone screens are made from tempered glass (which scratch at a level 6 with deeper grooves at a level 7), the Flexpai’s flexible display scratched at a level 3, which indicates that it is covered by a thin plastic film. Subsequently, permanent scratches could be made on the screen from a key held in the same pocket as the phone. Zack was even able to leave a permanent scratch with his fingernail.
Additionally, Zack holds a lighter to the display of his tested phones to see how the panel reacts to extreme heat. The Flexpai’s screen suffered permanent damage in under 5 seconds when exposed to an open flame. While it’s unlikely that most users will hold their smartphone over a fire, high temperatures (like those generated in a car on a hot summer’s day) may cause the display to warp or the pixels of the panel to be damaged.
While these tests may include extreme cases, they do point out that some foldable designs have critical points of failure. In particular, foldables that keep their displays on the outside of the phone when folded (Like the Huawei Mate X concept) expose their screens to damage. Since foldable screens cannot yet be covered with tempered glass, their soft plastic exteriors are extremely prone to scratching from common items.
It looks like foldables may need to go back to the drawing board.