Oppo's new "slide-phone" could put competitors on the back foot

Pete Flint

Posts: 39   +7
Something to look forward to: Oppo has been on a roll in recent years with various phone designs that have helped consumers question the status quo of their mobile hardware. This week, the phone manufacturer has released its "slide-phone" concept, which features three hinges and a thin-bezel display with a relatively wide aspect ratio. Compared to the market as it stands, this device would certainly turn some heads.

To market a working model of the folding companion device from the movie "Her", smartphone makers have been firing out their own interpretations of the folding phone aesthetic for the last couple years. Samsung and Huawei are duking it out in the bi-folding, bent-glass arena, while Microsoft is trying to pave the way for dual-screen, digital pocket books. Oppo has joined the mix today with what could be the most interesting design yet.

At the China International Industrial Design Expo, Oppo revealed its new “slide-phone” along with a few other interesting devices. The device was borne of the partnership with Japanese industrial design studio, nendo.

The idea here is that three separate hinges fold the screen over itself in the same direction, successively revealing more screen to “change the form of the phone as needed.” It will also come with a stylus stored inside its chassis.

In a series of tweets, Oppo has revealed some of the device’s conceptual functionality. Fully unfolded, the phone has a 7-inch screen with relatively slim bezels. The top fold, housing the camera array, can be slid along its length to reveal 40 mm of screen that's “ideal for applications like call history, notifications, and music player interfaces.” In one image, the chassis also appears designed to be used partially bent with its thin stylus, harking back to the days of palm pilots and razor flip-phones.

After the 40mm display uncovered by the first fold comes the 80mm display, which is designed for front-facing photography. The fully extended 7-inch screen will be used for most applications, and the new aspect ratio will undoubtedly come with its own UI customization.

In practice, there may be some issues with this design. App-makers prioritizing gaming and video consumption would have difficulty using this odd new aspect ratio, and the custom OS will almost certainly feel some growing pains.

Perhaps, though, this is simply a unique opportunity for developers to make creative software solutions that utilize this much space within a media app (e.g. live running comment feeds during a widescreen Twitch stream, or three separate windows in a video call).

This is currently still a concept, and we most likely won’t see products on the market until 2021 when Oppo's rollable phone is also slated for release.

The phone industry is yearning for more creativity as iterative improvements have become the norm and removing the headphone jack has been deemed “courageous.” It seems that phone manufacturers are looking for the next big thing. Whether in ten years we are all using bi-folds, rollable screens, “slide-phones,” or perhaps a mishmash of designs based on preference could be determined in the coming years as these strange and interesting devices become more affordable and gain market share.

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Uncle Al

Posts: 8,158   +6,907
The concept of a simple hinge rather than a single bending screen makes a lot more sense and less likely to damage the phone. Having a 3rd screen is very novel and I can see benefits in it but judging by the photo, the phone needs to be larger so it can be more easily read, still, as a first attempt this will definitely get a lot of attention and will be copied very soon .....


Posts: 164   +192
"removing the headphone jack has been deemed “courageous.” " - That is not a courageous move, it is a cretin move, welcome by few and critised by many.

On the last paragraph: I am curious myself, but what if (gasp!) there is no "next big thing", and manufacturers just put effort to materials and durability (so it will look good while you don't need to care for your phone like a baby), screen time, size variety (we don't all need large phones) and perhaps easy customisation? That shoud cover a large segment of user requirements nicely, wouldn't it?

Would it be the end of the world if we didn't try to over-innovate something which matured close to its final useful form?


Posts: 448   +586
One day, when displays can be folded perfectly flat without breaking the glass/display, this concept might be realistic. The segmented rear (front?) will be exceptionally hard to make it look as seamless as the rendered "prototype". Not even going to contemplate how they'll make this many hinges work while still leave room for internals... Cool idea, though.


Posts: 2,824   +2,178
Slide out versus bending screens would appear to be superior to me, but, the SCREEN is still to delicate. I'm passing on all of this folding, sliding etc screens. Let the eager beavers have at it. Once the bugs are worked out and the price comes down, I might think about it.


Posts: 1,827   +790
What's the ideal size screen? 5.5" to me. 7" foldable, and in this case, a very thin folding edge bezel.