While everyone might not be on board yet, one of the things I like most about flexible display tech is the way it allows phone makers to get really creative with new designs. Thanks to a partnership with Japanese design firm Nendo, Oppo’s new triple-hinged slider phone might be one of the most interesting concepts yet.
Simply dubbed the “slide-phone”—even though Oppo’s new device is just a concept, for now—it offers a neat twist on traditional flip phone design by incorporating a top section with three different hinges that allows users to slide the phone open into a total of seven different positions.
Oppo and Nendo say the inspiration behind the phone was to try to give people more flexibility and functionality from their phone by allowing them to do things like slide the phone up just one section to quickly reveal the time or recent notifications, or a couple more sections if someone wanted to, say, take a selfie.
Unlike foldable phones like the Huawei Mate X, which leaves its delicate flexible screen exposed even when it’s not fully open, the top half of the slide-phone is able to flip back down to provide better protection against scratches from anything that happens to bump into the phone while closed.
The positioning of the slide-phone’s cameras is quite important because, by putting them on the second-lowest segment (when closed), Oppo is able to use the same set of cameras to take both selfies and regular photos simply by adjusting where the hinges bend. This would allow for an overall reduction in the number of cameras on the phone compared to something like the Galaxy Z Fold2, which features a total of five cameras (one above the outside Cover Screen, a punch-hole selfie camera in the main 7.6-inch flexible display, and three on the back).
And if that’s not enough, the slide-phone even comes with a built-in stylus for people who want to take notes or sketch, though I admit a stylus seems like a somewhat unnecessary addition considering that the slide-phone’s extreme aspect ratio doesn’t seem very conducive to drawing. I might even call it downright unwieldy when fully expanded, though that would depend a lot on how strong and stable Oppo can make those hinges.
Although Oppo and Nendo’s concept photos for the slide-phone look impressively slick, based on the current state of flexible screen tech and hinge design, it’s hard to imagine Oppo being able to actually produce a device as deliciously thin or sleek as what’s seen in the pics above within the next couple years.
So, while it’s definitely innovative, the slide-phone is still just a concept. But as a forward-thinking look as to what comes after phones like the Z Fold2, along with its concept for a phone with a rollable display, Oppo seems like it’s really investigating how to push flexible display tech as far as possible.