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Sharp teases its own foldable phone prototype

The Sharp foldable prototype in action. (Source: YouTube)
The Sharp foldable prototype in action. (Source: YouTube)
Sharp has thrown its hat into the foldable-device ring by displaying its own device built around a flexible OLED panel. This screen will apparently measure 6.18-inches and have a 1440 x 3040 resolution when part of a finished product. Interestingly, it takes a clamshell form-factor and folding action, which is also associated with no companies besides Motorola at this point.

Foldable phones are finally taking off this year, especially in the wake of the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X, which will both be commonly available by mid-2019. However, if they have one major drawback, it is that they are not much more pocketable than regular rigid flagships. This is because they may exhibit 'front' panels that measure 6 inches at least, then fold open to take tablet-like forms with displays of about 8 inches each.

This could be addressed by offering alternative form-factors that leverage the foldable advantage. However, with the exception of the rumored Motorola RAZR 2019, few devices are projected to do so. Sharp may have given those who would like a clam-shell that converts into conventional 'phone' dimensions some hope, however. It has recently showcased its own latest prototype, which exhibits a flexible, 6.18 inch 1440 x 3040 foldable AMOLED display when unfolded vertically.

This screen appears to be bright and clear, and to be capable of withstanding folds in varying speeds and volumes. However, the overall device may not appeal to those without an appreciation for rather blocky, angular industrial design and carbon-fiber down the sides. On the other hand, there is no guarantee that the finished Sharp foldable product will conform to it - particularly as the display itself is plainly much thinner compared to the rest of the prototype's body.

This panel also failed to evince any of the worrying tendency to crease seen in some footage of the Galaxy Fold. Sharp claims that its folding tech is rated for up to 300,000 folding cycles; on the other hand, we do not know how many the prototype shown has been through. Nevertheless, it seems that this Japanese company is preparing some stiff competition for the pre-existing names in the foldable space for the near future.

The new foldable prototype at various stages of opening and closing. (Source: YouTube)
The new foldable prototype at various stages of opening and closing. (Source: YouTube)
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Deirdre O Donnell, 2019-04-11 (Update: 2019-04-11)