In 2019, several vendors — most notably Samsung — boldly launched the first wave of foldable phones. In theory, the concept sounds amazing, allowing a phone to expand out to tablet-size for watching content, then shrink down to handset size for talking or texting. First-generation devices were generally abysmal, but impressions of the second-generation designs have been more positive. Our own Ryan Whitwam wrote a glowing review of the Galaxy Z Fold2.
Now, Lenovo is bringing the concept of a foldable display to the PC market. Meet the X1 Fold:
The idea of the X1 Fold is that it, well, folds. It can be used as a large tablet, propped up horizontally to be used as a conventional laptop, or oriented like a book for reading. It has an optional detachable keyboard and an easel stand. It ships with a Core i5-L16G7 processor (1.4GHz base, 3GHz Turbo Boost) with five cores and five threads. You can read more about Lakefield here if you aren’t familiar with Intel’s latest low-power GPU.
The display is a 2048×1536 OLED with 95 percent of the DCI-P3 gamut, and a 300 nit display. There’s also 8GB of LPDDRX-4267 in the system and an expected battery life of 8.5 to 10 hours depending on the workload. It has up to 1TB of storage and two USB-C ports. 5G support will be available and the whole system weighs just 2.2 pounds.
None of the early coverage gives much of an opinion on what the device is like to use. I’m intrigued by the idea of a foldable computer display could offer, but it needs to be more than just a straightforward screen expansion — we need good software hooks, too. The ability to display application data on different screens opens up interesting collaborative possibilities. On the negative side of things, there are always questions about hinge strength and longevity. OLEDs are not the strongest of devices, and any material that works its way into a hinge is going to wreak havoc in short order.
I’m not sold on foldable phones or foldable devices, mostly because I don’t think the advantage of a slightly larger screen offsets the current laundry list of problems these devices have had. I think it’s perfectly possible that the technology will continue to improve, possibly even to the point that having a dual-screen device is completely normal. For now, I’m happy to sit on the sidelines, check out Lakefield’s performance, and watch this new type of smartphone design evolve.
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