Most foldable smartphones with OLED screens developed in recent years follow the trend of folding to the size of an average smartphone and unfolding to a screen two or three times bigger. However, a new concept smartphone from OPPO designed by renowned Japanese studio nendo proposes a different way of using screen folding technology. Instead of making a screen larger, the designers made the phone smaller and thus enhanced its portability.
The concept titled “slide-phone” was showcased at the 4th China International Industrial Design Expo (CIIDE). In a folded state, the smartphone is the size of a credit card (54 mm by 86 mm). It features three foldable screens attached by hinges folding over in the same direction. Like an inchworm, the phone uses its multiple joints to slide sideways and can be transformed with only one thumb. By providing users with the flexibility to change the form of the phone as needed, users may benefit from the ability to change its size to suit the occasion.
Sliding one fold up exposes 40 mm of the screen that provides various functions, such as the time, call history, notifications, and the music player, all available in the limited area. Next, sliding the second fold reveals 80 mm of the screen. The camera at the same time has simultaneously moved to the top of the device. This is a fitting configuration for taking selfies, video calls, and other functions, linking the screen with the front-facing camera. Unfolding the entire phone unveils a 7-inch screen with a unique, slender proportion.
In addition to playing videos with an operable side panel, the user may also enjoy the phone as a controller in game mode with control panels on either side, in multitask mode with numerous apps displayed in a row, and panoramic photography mode in full screen.
The controls on the side of the phone are shaped like ellipses cut in half, functioning as two to four buttons, becoming small, semicircular buttons, or combining into one large button as the folds slide up and down. Further, the stylus ordinarily inserted in the phone may be taken out for use and the phone folded in half to give the user the feeling of writing in a notepad. The notion resulted in an interface allowing the user to open and close the upper half of the screen to, as it were, flip the page.
The hinges are covered with suede leather to prevent the impression that, for having three hinges, the phone is an inorganic, rigid contrivance. The rest of the phone is colored in calming tones selected for their compatibility with the leather.
Lastly, the wireless charger stand is angled to match the hinged state of the phone to have an integrated appearance while charging. The design opens up new possibilities for smartphones, for their use not only while fully folded or opened but while partially unfolded or while bent.
OPPO Industrial Design lead designer Xiao Bo: “nendo’s design is closely aligned with OPPO’s human-centric philosophy. OPPO aims to bring users a delightful product experience with cutting-edge technology and aesthetic design. This partnership is built upon a conviction that, to create a groundbreaking tech product with the right level of comfort for users, we must focus on ‘human.’ Moving forward, we will double down on this approach by engineering products with a more seamless, user-friendly experience.”