How does Foldable Smartphone Screens Work?

Rancho Labs
4 min readSep 3, 2021


It’s the latest in the series of innovations and it’s called a foldable smartphone! Novel designs like the flip phones have taken a back seat, but have been used as inspiration for this latest model of smartphones. These phones allow the screens to be flipped close or open to reduce the phone’s size while maintaining the screen size that is comparable to a regular smartphone. This aspect of a foldable smartphone makes it quite pocket friendly and screen protective too.

Now, one has to wonder, how do these screen displays of the foldable smartphones actually work? Normal smartphones have screens made out of glass for a multitude of purposes along with screen and picture quality, so if the same technology is made use of for creating foldable smartphones, how do they not break when folded open and shut? How does the screen seamlessly fold in and open out without it’s display or the images displayed in getting distorted or displayed unevenly? Let’s see how!

The technology employed behind these highly flexible screens have actually been in use for a while now being used in ultra thin TVs and even curved edge smartphones like Samsung Edge.

The screen that is used for making foldable devices are known as Organic Light Emitting Diodes or OLEDs. They are made of organic materials through which when electricity is passed, they emit their own light and therefore are built into the screen itself which is unlike LCDs, which actually has a backlit light source behind the glass display. This makes OLED designs advantageous over LCDs (Liquid CrystalDisplays) in that they are less bulky, and have a wider, more precise gamut of colors visible through it. These OLED displays are then printed over a highly flexible, thin layer of plastic which acts as the screen users interact with.This is how most foldable phones at the moment work, meaning rather than using glass, they use a high quality thin layer of plastic instead of glass for screens. These models of phones come from brands like Samsung, Motorola and Huawei. In short, the features of a foldable phone are-

  • Wider and bigger display when compared to a regular smartphone
  • More precise range of colors and visibility owing to the OLED technology
  • Less bulky despite the larger screen benefits it offers
  • Can merge the need for separate phones and tablets with this one product
  • Pocket friendly and easy to manage
  • Can display notifications and more on the outer panel of the phone.

Currently, Samsung’s Galaxy Z-Flip is the only range of foldable phones that employ the use of glass for it’s foldable screen technology. These glass screens don’t break and are flexible due to the ultra thin technology employed which allows it to be bent. They are also provided with a thin plastic cover layer that is scratch proof for further protection.

Due to its current, on-going developing nature, these phones are still prone to a number of issues that remain to be solved. The pros for having such a design is that it provides a larger screen that is easily portable due to its folding nature. However at the moment, the issues these range of phones face include, the sacrificing of hardness of the screen, meaning since the majority of these phones currently rely on paper thin plastic OLED displays, they are more prone to piercing from sharp objects unlike a glass screen and aren’t as scratch proof when compared to their glass counterparts. They also rely on the perfect functioning of the folding phones hinges which help the opening and closing of the phones. The durability of the function of these hinges are yet to be seen in a real life scenario.

All this said, foldable phones and gadgets are truly taking the gadget revolution by storm as they provide a much better display, wider range of colors and increased display size that does not affect its pocket friendliness! These reasons alone can make one contemplate and seriously consider buying a foldable phone and why not! They are a true ode to the amalgamation between modern smartphone technology to the flip phones of yesteryear!



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