Folding Phones and their Batteries – Futuristic or Futile?

There have been a lot of interesting developments to come out of this years’ Mobile World Conference (MWC). From Nokia’s not-so-secret penta-camera to the dystopian future-esque feature of folding phones, you’d be forgiven for feeling like the future is now for cellphones.

Folding cells appear to be the hot new thing in the world of tech. But does double the screen mean double the battery? Will the batteries themselves be flexible? We check out the top two contenders.

Samsung Galaxy Fold  – $1,980

Image: Samsung Website

Samsung were the first major brand to announced at their Galaxy Event – and the phone will follow shortly. If you’re willing to pay big for it, you’ll be able to get your own Fold on April 26th.

The phone will feature a 4.6” HD+ Super AMOLED Cover Display (21:9) and a 7.3” QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED Main Display (4.2:3). There will also be six cameras: one on the cover, two for the main and three on the rear.

Huawei Mate X – $2,600

Image: Huawei Website

Not even a week after the Samsung announcement, Huawei countered with their own thinner foldable phone.

It features an 8″ unfolded OLED screen (2480 x 2200 resolution). When folded, this becomes a 6.6″ front panel and 6.38″ back panel. It carries on using Leica’s brilliant cameras, with a 40 MP Wide Angle Lens, a 16 MP Ultra Wide Angle Lens and an 8 MP Telephoto.

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Which Battery System is Likely to be Better?

All that extra screen deserves a decent battery.

Samsung has stated that they’re using a 4380mAh (typical) battery, whilst Huawei has gone with 4500 mAh (Typical).

It makes sense that the bigger phone would have the bigger battery, but neither capacities seem quite adequate. A 4,380 mAh battery may seem a lot, but Samsung’s recently-announced Galaxy S10 5G has a 4,500 mAh battery with a smaller screen. It’s not difficult to see the issues here, even before you realise that the Fold can simultaneously run three apps.

While the Huawei folding phone battery isn’t much bigger, especially considering the increased screen size, it does have an impressive 55W SuperCharge feature. Huawei say this means your phone will reach 85% charge in 30 minutes. It looks like even if the batteries aren’t capable of lasting all day, the Huawei will outperform the Samsung by charging far more quickly.

That being said, it will be hard to judge the battery life until reviewers have got their hands on the phones.

Flexible Batteries

It was rumored last year that Samsung’s folding phone battery would be curved and flexible.

This didn’t happen. Instead, both companies opted to have two batteries – one either side of the fold. This isn’t as innovative as you could hope, but it appears the best that can be achieved at this time.

This is because battery technology advances slowly. While scientists have been developing flexible Li-Ion batteries based on the human spine, this technology is still in the prototype stage. While the demand is there, the abilities of such batteries are behind at the moment. Indeed, Samsung’s own attempts a few years ago only produced a 210mAh version.

Moreover, even with the ‘spine-like’ battery there is still an element of rigidity. To fold with the intensity needed by these phones the batteries would have to almost bend in half. We don’t know about you, but the idea of a battery snapping as you bend your phone doesn’t sound pleasant…

Image: Yuan Yang/Columbia Engineering

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So Our Advice For A Decent Folding Phone Battery? Wait a while…

Ultimately, we suggest that you stick with your boring old non-folding phones for now. Folding phones are an expensive unknown, especially whilst the companies are figuring out how to power the phone properly. Until a decent folding phone battery is created, though, there is some good news: they will be great for the portable charging industry.

If you don’t have a fold but need a portable charger, follow our Instagram: @ravpower

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