While many smartphone manufacturers have released or teased foldable phones, from Samsung and Motorola to TCL, Oppo and Xiaomi, one company that so far hasn't dabbled in the new form factor is OnePlus - and now its CEO has explained why.
In an interview with The Verge (opens in new tab), OnePlus CEO Pete Lau explained a lot of his thinking on different areas of smartphone tech, from camera phones and image-processing software to foldable phones.
”We haven’t found that the significant advantage or value that’s brought [from a foldable form factor] that isn’t outweighed by the shortcomings or the disadvantages of the current state of the technology [sic]“ said Lau’s translator (as a non-native English speaker, he opted to use an interpreter for the interview).
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The main reason for this, it seems, is the folding technology itself. “If you look at the fold and the current foldable technology devices, it’s very large and not very clear or a very crisp fold [sic]“, Lau added.
When asked about the Motorola Razr‘s tech, and the way its screen retracts slightly to enable a tighter fold, Lau’s translator explained “what Pete’s saying is that the fold is still not a clean crease to the degree that he would want in a product that he would make“.
Clearly, then, OnePlus has high standards with regards to foldable tech, and hasn’t found a good enough way to get a crease to work without impairing the design of the device. There’s also a fair bit of nay-saying on Lau's part, particularly towards the Razr, with him commenting ”because it’s a plastic material, its ability to have the scratch resistance of glass just isn’t there yet”.
We’ve heard similar sentiments from Lau before - in April 2019 he said OnePlus had “not yet found a way to build a [foldable] device”, adding that the company’s R&D department was instead focusing on the OnePlus TV.
We're expecting to see several more foldable phones in 2020, including the Samsung Galaxy Fold 2, along with debut devices from companies including Oppo, Xiaomi, TCL; so while OnePlus might not yet be ready to commit to the tech, it's likely only a matter of time before it's obliged to follow suit.