Welcome to Brown’s Bytes! Your weekly insight from Mobliciti’s CTO Andy Brown. Follow #brownsbytes
21st February 2020
You may recall a little while ago we looked at the Samsung Galaxy Fold and while there were elements that were impressive and interesting in the Enterprise context, on the whole, it felt more of an engineering prototype and a technical solution in search of a problem, than the next big thing.
Having said that it is clear that flexible screens open up exciting opportunities for phone design to move away from the standard black monolith we’ve had now for some time. I was therefore keen to see what happened next in the world of bendy screens.
You wait for one folding phone… and two turn up!
And this is good news – a new (for smartphones anyway) form factor to consider… the clamshell is back!! So, as always, let’s consider this from the Enterprise context.
Well – first of all, both devices are running Android and should be manageable in much the same way as their non-folding cousins…. and a quick check confirms this is the case; the Razr is Android Enterprise Recommended and the Galaxy Z Flip will support Samsung Knox – so a draw score for management capability.
In short (get it?) these devices will support any Enterprise context that non-folding devices could. I’m also pleased to see that both appear to be more fully formed from a design perspective – these things are definitely much more attractive (to me at least) than the folding mini-tablets we’ve seen to date. Reviews are positive (the Galaxy Z Flip getting rave reviews in particular).
So, now let’s look at how this new form factor could change things up beyond existing non-folding devices.
And I will be honest I’m a bit stuck here, whilst the engineering is impressive, I’m struggling to think of a business context where a device that is twice as thick, but only half as long really exists.
Beyond being an (expensive) option for personal choice (which is no bad thing by the way), these devices don’t seriously change how you will use them.
But, maybe that’s the point. If you look at the marketing for these devices, they appear to be heavy on the style element – desirable device options are actually a benefit in IT these days. User perception of IT is often partly based on the “face” of IT (the Smartphone/Tablet/Laptop that IT provides to them). It may also be the case that in a BYOD context you see more of these – people who get one will definitely want to use it and stand out from the crowd with it.
But that’s all I can think of at present which isn’t much to hang your hat on spending over £1000 on an Enterprise smartphone.
The Bendy Screen Conundrum
My final thoughts on all these devices. Flexible screens were supposed to unlock a raft of unusual devices/wearables. To date that simply hasn’t happened, and I think a clue as to why this is the case is to look at the percentage of the screen on these devices that are designed to flex. Simply put it is a very small percentage of the screen area – i.e. only the hinge!
The underlying problem here is that flexible screens are currently being held back by the fact that the rest of the electronics are still rigid, as such the fact the screen can flex is largely redundant at present.
For me, it’s going to be more interesting to see how these foldable devices fare in the market compared to the Microsoft Surface Duo. It’s a foldable phone also but is arguably less compromised at the hinge area because they’ve simply put two rigid screens into the device – thus simplifying the hinge and allowing the device to truly fold flat.
The bendy phone area is one to watch for sure and it will be fascinating to see if these latest devices create consumer demand. As is always the case, where consumers lead the Enterprise will inevitably follow in the smartphone space.
In the meantime, if you want us to help with device strategy and sourcing then get in touch.