With foldable phones in limbo, foldable display laptops are on the horizon

With the Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X currently in limbo for very different reasons, PC makers are apparently jumping at the chance to make their own foldable display ambitions known. It’s been clear, of course, for as long as flexible screens have been a viable technology, that hardware manufacturers would be experimenting with any and all form factors. In just the past week, two key players have talked up their plans for how it might be utilized on the PC front.

Last week, Lenovo showed off a prototype ThinkPad X1. The company’s been no stranger to experimental convertibles, and utilizing a foldable display could further blur the line been tablets and PCs. The technology allows for a large screen in a compact form factor. Here it’s 13.3 inches that can be collapsed into half the size, making it a lot easier to take with you.

It’s a slick prototype, and obviously folding form factors are already the standard in the laptop world. But like Lenovo’s past attempts at dual-screen devices, the on-screen removes the tactile keyboard, one of the biggest pain points in moving consumers away from more traditional laptops. Perhaps that’s something that could be addressed with the sorts of overlays provided by companies like Sensel.

Dell, too, recently told Gizmodo that it’s experimenting with a similar form factor. No surprise on that front, really. One expects that any PC maker worth its weight in netbooks is, at the very least, playing around with the concept as we speak.

All of this is complicated by the fact that the foldable phone category has been plagued with issues — though not necessarily the ones most people predicted. Samsung indefinitely pushed back the launch date of the Galaxy Fold after several reviewers ran into issues with their units.

We’re still waiting for official news on that front. Huawei, meanwhile, had a wrench thrown into its stratospheric ascendancy when the company was blacklisted by the Trump White House, leaving aspects of its future in jeopardy.

Neither of these are direct indictments of the concept — though Samsung’s model certainly failed in real-world testing. For that reason, it’s probably safe to say that the jury’s still out on consumer demand, though many of the major concerns, including pricing, would likely carry over to the PC category.