This is the moment we've been waiting for. After years of prototypes, the age of foldables has finally arrived. They're here. I've seen them, and even, briefly, touched one.
And that's about as far as it goes, to be honest. A week after Samsung kicked off its S10 event with an in-depth look at Galaxy Fold, the device made its IRL debut at MWC, this week. We got to the show on hour early on the first day, only to find four devices trapped behind glass cases.
Two were splayed to show the backs of the screens. Swooped in and put up the ropes. The Fold has a release date that's just under two months away, and yet here are, stuck admiring the thing from afar.
Huawei was a bit better. Another morning session yesterday found us back at the company's booth, getting up close with Mate X. But things got a little weird.
TCL's product got a similar behind-the-glass treatment as the fold. Though there's one key difference: the company gave a 2020 timeframe for its more affordable (more affordable than $ 2,600, that's) take on the category. That, hopefully, is enough time to get out of the kinks ahead of product launch.
That neither Huawei nor Samsung feel confident enough to let us go any further in-depth with their soon to be released devices is not the child of that very thing with confidence in an emerging space. Royole, to its credit, has nearly made the most of the CES, though, by nearly all accounts, the product feels more like a developer device than anything.
And that, really, is the fear. Samsung's charging an arm for the device, at $ 1,980. Huawei's tossed in another limb, bringing the total up to $ 2,600. That's not beta tester levels. That's double the cost of already exorbitant flagship smartphone pricing for a lot of bugs to work out.
It's true that there's a lot of needs to be redesigned after generations of coalescing around the same basic form factor, both from a hardware and software perspective. But it's one thing to announce and another to bring it to market. If these initial devices prove to be buggy or otherwise a let down from a user perspective, it's going to be a fairly inexpicious start for a long promised form factor.