Will fold-out phones start a new revolution?

Will fold-out phones start a new revolution?

Lower cost Google phones will be arriving this year. There will be mid-range offerings somewhere in the 4,700-22,000 baht range and another below that as a low-range product. The target is emerging markets that are fairly well saturated with other brands, both Korean and Chinese. The Google Pixel is the high-end product and is supposed to have the best camera, for now, but they are not cheap. The new range will round out the lower end of the market.

At the other end of the spectrum is the new Samsung Galaxy S10 range. By the time you read this, the new models will have been announced and be only a few weeks away from the hands of eager consumers. There will be three new models plus a special one. At the entry level is the S10 E with a 5.8-inch 1080x2280p screen, with the regular S10 and S10 plus having 6.1- and 6.3-inch 1440x3040p screens with 800 nits of brightness for outdoor viewing. There's Gorilla Glass 6 front and back to reduce scratches even further and the two higher-end models will have an in-screen fingerprint reader. All models will come with Android 9 and will support 2 + 3, 1 + 3 and 1 + 2 selfie and back cameras, in order of price. Yes, dual cameras on the Plus model for selfies. The triple set-up will be a normal, wide and telephoto lenses for different situations. The S10 E will not get the telephoto. Memory starts at 6 and 8GB for the lower models and 12GB for the Plus with 64, 128, 256, 512 and 1TB versions sliding up the scale. Prices will start at 17,800 baht and almost double depending on the configuration you choose.

The model of real interest is the Galaxy 10 X, coming with a fold-out screen, giving two screens. You will be able to find out the full specs after the release, but it is expected to have up to 1TB of memory and the same features as the 10 Plus in terms of cameras and main memory. The price is expected to be astronomical. LG had plans for a fold-out phone but they have put these on hold. Huawei have a prototype for their bendy phone that should also have been announced by the time you read this. Xiaomi have their model, but it is a bit behind as far as potential release dates are concerned. The real question is will they take off? With the predicted sky-high prices, what will be the case for someone to have what is essentially a mid-sized notebook that can make phone calls? Will the top end have finally priced their products out of the marketplace and do smartphone users really need such devices? As usual, we will have to wait and see what the sales figures show over the next 12 months or so.

I am an Ingress player, the game that came before Pokémon from Niantic. Unlike Pokémon, the portals all should be in public access locations. Pokémon can pop up anywhere, including on private property. Enter the court case that has Niantic scrambling to include the ability for homeowners and others to ban the virtual pets from roaming their property. This includes private areas in hospitals and police stations. Like most smartphone games, it is fairly easy to spot players. They are walking around, sometimes in groups, faces buried in their screens, occasionally bumping into things, with a general zombie-like expression on their faces. It has also led to gangs robbing geeks at popular spots, an increase in car accidents, injuries from wandering onto the streets and even an Islamic fatwa that claims Pokémon violates Islamic law, due to references to evolution and the use of various religious symbols. Don't play Pokémon in a mosque.

Some groups in society are amazing. Take the proposed opening of Amazon in New York. This was opposed by Congresspeople, officials and unions and, despite over 70% local support, Amazon have dropped their plans. The opening would have created an estimated 25,000 new jobs. The logic of one outspoken Congresswoman was that the money from the tax breaks could be spent elsewhere. That being the as yet unearned money from which less tax would be taken, now never to appear. So New York misses out on hosting one of the biggest retail concerns in the world. It just goes to show that you can be one of the biggest retail companies in the world and not get your way. Don't feel too bad for them, though, as Amazon recently tripled their pre-tax profits to US$11.2 billion and for the second year in a row paid no corporate taxes in the US.

James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years' standing. You can contact him at jclhein@gmail.com.

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