Foldable devices; How to design and develop their applications?

Foldable devices; How to design and develop their applications?

Diciembre 03, 2022 - Read 5 -10 min

A new trend in the global smart phone market is that of foldable cell phones, and their acceptance is growing at such a rapid pace that it is expected, according to Gartner, that by 2023 there will be around 30 million units in the world. So, if you are looking for a proper approach to tackle the design and development of applications for these novel and versatile devices, this article will be quite useful for you.

Since the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold cell phone in 2018, foldable devices became a new source of opportunities for developing innovative applications. This is because in the same device the user can enjoy new interactive experiences that are complementary thanks to the 3 folding functions that the screens of these mobiles have.

What can be interpreted from the statistics of the foldable devices market?

Studies conducted throughout the world have made it clear that one of the most desired and expected features among the followers of smartphones is that they are foldable. But, before embracing this technology as the new universal trend, it is pertinent to clarify that foldable devices have been present in the market since 2018. The difference is that this time these terminals have matured in a more consistent and successful way achieving that their new functional proposal attracts waves of new users.

So, in order to help you resolve whether it is profitable for you or your company to embark on a path in which you seek to develop applications for these devices let's go directly to the statistical evidence, past, present and future:

At a general level

  • The global market for smartphones and tablets with foldable screens was valued at $91 million and is expected to reach or exceed $1550 million by the end of 2027

  • In 2019, shipments of foldable mobile devices consolidated at 1 million units globally. By the end of this year, the number of foldable mobile device shipments around the world is expected to reach the 50 million unit floor.

  • The foldable mobile device market is expected to reach a 64% year-on-year growth rate by 2025.

Specifically

  • In terms of screen size, it is estimated that those 6 inches or smaller will have a total market share of 44.6% by the end of this year. But growing demand and entertainment offerings are expected to position the 8-inch segment at 34.1% by 2031.

  • According to RAM memory capacity, the 12 GB RAM segment controls around 50% today, but a dominant jump is also expected from 16 GB RAM mobiles thanks to the adoption of IoT devices such as surveillance cameras, sensors and smart lights, among others, as these have driven the demand for higher storage capacity and faster data transfers.

  • As far as storage capacity is concerned, the most popular foldable mobile devices are 256 GB with a share of 60% at present. In this section a sudden jump is not expected given that the price gap between a 256 GB mobile and the immediately following 512 GB is quite wide and users are taking advantage of cloud services to supply their extra storage needs.

  • Finally, on the pricing front, the low availability and high demand for foldable mobile devices has positioned those in the USD 500 and USD 1500 range as the most popular, which dominate the current market with a share of more than 50%. However, this is expected to take another turn sooner rather than later given that this technology is quite young in the smartphone industry and very few brands have entered this niche market.

How to create applications for foldable screens?

Foldable devices provide top-notch user experiences thanks to their flexibility in both hardware and software. This is undoubtedly a starting point for design and also for the development of high-quality applications with the purpose of creating engaging, immersive and versatile experiences for users of this technology.

Design-wise

In their nature, foldable devices have two physical and virtual states: folded screen and unfolded screen. When the screen is folded we can assume that it behaves like a traditional smartphone but when its screen is unfolded we talk about a tablet mode in form and behavior. From the above it should be considered:

One-handed and two-handed use: In both cases the use is completely different so much so that in terms of UI/UX the two experiences are superficially the same but internally different, and this should be considered as a maxim in the design stage of development.

Continuity (of the screen): As in the previous case the experience must be fluid as the user alternates between the folded and unfolded screen states.

Multiple windows: The life cycle of multiple windows should be very well proposed to guide the user to the most convenient and useful according to their interaction.

Development:

At this stage, first and foremost, efforts should be made to create applications of the highest possible quality, which are fail-safe and flow flawlessly. They must also be extremely responsive.

Continuity (of the application): This consideration is very similar to screen continuity, where the application must be free and able to move naturally as it moves from one screen state to another. This is achieved by creating dynamically sized viewports and resizable activity ports.

Variable screen proportions: Having little information about the most appropriate screen sizes requires developing applications that support as many screen proportions and aspect ratios as possible.

Multiple window: On foldable screen devices it is possible to run multiple applications simultaneously, so remember to include multiple resume capability in your application.

Multiple screen: Yes, in addition to the folding screen these devices also support another screen in parallel so the application must be both adaptive and projectable.

In addition, once the design and development cycles are completed, the critical stage is the testing of functionality and adaptability. That is, it must be tested how well the application works per se, and how well it performs on a folding screen mobile. This in order to provide users with a solid and uniform experience because currently the audience reaction is quite positive and any inconvenience could limit the adoption of this type of devices.

To conclude, designing and developing an application for foldable mobile devices can prove to be quite a complex project but in return, if carried to fruition, it can easily become a success because users of these devices are expectant of the potential of this new stage of mobile telephony.

If you are looking to take a stake in this field, our advice is to seek technological guidance and rely on an expert development team to help you take commercial advantage of the new technological advances. For that reason, at DreamCode we can support you, on the one hand you can rely on our cutting-edge technology consulting and on the other hand, be confident that our developers will bring all their knowledge and experience in the development of profitable tools for your company. Learn more at