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New video from JerryRigEverything demonstrates critical design flaws of foldable smartphones

A new video from the popular YouTube channel JerryRigEverything shows that foldables that keep their displays on the outside of their case are at severe risk for damage. Simple items like keys or extreme heat could permanently mar the display of a foldable smartphone.
Sam Medley,

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.

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Sam Medley
Sam Medley - Senior Tech Writer - 1171 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2016
I've been a computer geek my entire life. After graduating college with a degree in Mathematics, I worked in finance and banking a few years before taking a job as a database administrator. I started working with Notebookcheck in October of 2016 and have enjoyed writing news and reviews. I've also written for other outlets including UltrabookReview and GeeksWorldWide, focusing on consumer guidance and video gaming. My areas of interest include the business side of technology, retro gaming, Linux, and innovative gadgets. When I'm not writing on electronics or tinkering with a device, I'm either outside with my family, enjoying a decade-old video game, or playing drums or piano.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 07 > New video from JerryRigEverything demonstrates critical design flaws of foldable smartphones
Sam Medley, 2019-07-29 (Update: 2019-07-29)