Mobile

Samsung’s folding phone duo needs to learn some lessons from Microsoft

Samsung is expected to launch its hotly rumoured new Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 handsets this week, continuing its push to make foldables an actual category people care about.

I’ve never shied away from offering my honest opinion on foldable phones. Cliff Notes, I don’t like them. I mean why add a clear design risk to a phone when the only real gain is a slightly bigger display?

This is why regardless of the rumours flying about new cutting edge folding screen designs, better cameras and general performance improvements, there’s only one thing Samsung could do to make me get excited about the phones: It needs to take some cues from Microsoft.

While I’ve never hidden my dislike for folding screens, that doesn’t mean I’m against foldables as a whole. In fact, when it was first unveiled alongside the Surface Neo, the Surface Duo had me outright buzzing with excitement for two key reasons.

First, because the design makes way more sense.

The Surface Duo is an Android smartphone designed by Microsoft and It features a folding design that connects two separate touch screens using a physical hinge. This gives it a form factor more akin to an old school Nintendo DS handheld, or 90s PDA than the Galaxy foldables.

surface duo open

Sure this doesn’t sound as cool as a folding screen, but in many ways it offers all the same benefits without adding a design element that’s inherently going to be fragile and prone to breaking.

Think about it, being able to multitask with a dedicated screen for each app just feels like a far more intuitive system than anything the competition has put forth.

Then there’s gaming, the DS showed this form factor works and having the game on one screen and an on screen controller on the other is much better than trying to play on one of Samsung’s folding screens, which both have odd aspect ratios.

This brings me to the second reason: software. The Duo’s middling components stopped it being a great phone, but you have to hand it to Microsoft for what it tried to do with the Duo’s version of Android.

At launch, it had its Office suite ready to go and optimised for the dual screen design. It also made sure to start leveraging its Xbox prestige for gamers, adding support for the beta of its Games Pass cloud streaming service. It was these touches that made the Duo so exciting.

Samsung meanwhile struggled to get any apps running correctly on the original Galaxy Fold’s atypically sized screen, both when it was in its phone and tablet form factor when mobile editor Max Park first tested it. This, among many reasons, was a factor that stopped it from getting into any of our best phone guides.

This is why, for me, if Samsung really wants to make foldables a mainstream thing, it needs to take a cue from Microsoft.

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