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As Samsung (re)unveiled its clamshell folding cellphone final week, I stored seeing the identical query pop up amongst my social circles: why?

I was questioning the identical factor myself, to be trustworthy. I’m undecided even Samsung is aware of; they’d win me over by the tip, however solely considerably. The halfway-folded, laptop-style “Flex Mode” permits you to place the cellphone on a desk for hands-free video calling. That’s fairly neat, I guess. But… is that it?

The finest reply to “why?” I’ve give you up to now isn’t a really satisfying one: Because they will (perhaps). And as a result of they form of need to do one thing.

Let’s time-travel again to the early 2000s. Phones had been bizarre, different and no producers actually knew what was going to work. We had primary flip phones and Nokia’s indestructible bricks, however we additionally had phones that swiveled, slid and included chunky bodily keyboards that appeared completely essential. The Sidekick! LG Chocolate! BlackBerry Pearl! Most had been fairly dangerous by at the moment’s requirements, nevertheless it was at the least straightforward to inform one mannequin from the following.

Do phones need to fold? – Internet 1

(Photo by Kim Kulish/Corbis through Getty Images)

Then got here the iPhone in 2007; an oblong glass slab outlined much less by bodily buttons and switches and extra by the software program that powered it. The machine itself, a silhouette. There was hesitation to this method, initially; the primary Android phones shipped with swiveling keyboards, trackballs and varied sliding pads. As iPhone gross sales grew, everybody else’s buttons, sliders and keyboards had been boiled away as designers emulated the iPhone’s type issue. The finest reply, it appeared, was a easy one.

Twelve years later, all the things has grow to be the identical. Phones have grow to be… boring. When everyone seems to be making an attempt to construct a greater rectangle, the battle turns into certainly one of {hardware} specs. Which one has the quickest CPU? The finest digicam?

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