Oppo renders remind us that foldable phones are still a 'thing'

Oppo's foldable phone. Image credit: Brian Shen

It's been a long time since we last heard news about foldable phones, either in terms of real handsets or prospective ones in the form of leaks and renders – but some new images have popped up to remind us of this once-exciting form factor.

Recently-published renders of a phone from Oppo, included as part of a filing to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and spotted by LetsGoDigital, show a folding phone with features like a pop-up camera and 3.5mm headphone jack.

The renders themselves are nothing special – their features are novel, for sure, but patents don't always result in actual phones, and these images show a very rough idea of the phone. However the publication of the renders at this time, now the foldable phone hype has died down, is an intriguing reminder of this kind of phone.

What happened to foldables?

When we were shown the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X in February and March, it seemed foldable devices like these were going to become the new big 'thing' – patents and renders for folding phones from companies like Google and Apple  started popping up left right and center. 

After it was discovered the Galaxy Fold had a durability problem, the hype died down, and we haven't heard much on foldable phones for a while.

Perhaps companies are watching Samsung to see how it deals with the Galaxy Fold, which still doesn't have a solid release date, or maybe many are souring on the idea of flexible handsets.

On top of that, the recent Huawei ban means the fate of the Huawei Mate X is uncertain – that and the Galaxy Fold were the only two real foldables that we'd gotten hands-on with and new release windows for, but now we've no idea when the first device could release.

The wild form factor of bending handsets may be futuristic and intriguing, but it's also uncertain – while Oppo's filing reminds us foldables exist, it doesn't make them any closer to being in our hands.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.