Foldable and slidable phones were just concepts a decade ago, but the foldable market has matured in recent years. After the Mi Mix Alpha was released in 2019, we thought slidable phones would be next, but it’s been four years and no mainstream company has released one.
That’s because slidable phones have their own challenges. Xiaomi was ahead of its time with the Mi Mix Alpha, but it was discontinued the same year it was released.
Now, it seems like slidable phones might actually make it to the market. The concept great too, as you get extra screen space when you need it without making the phone bulky. But like foldable phones, slidable phones can be difficult to use one-handed.
Earlier this week, a Samsung patent surfaced that shows a clever solution to this problem. The phone would have a screen on the back that could be used as an input device, similar to a trackpad on a laptop.
This would allow users to control the extended screen without having to use both hands. It’s a simple idea, but it could make a big difference in the usability of slidable phones. At the moment, the source calls it a ‘Rear Touch Function‘, but the actual name of this feature is yet to be released.
What it does is that it has specific gestures that you can do to control your device, for example:
- Tap – Execute function
- Tap and drag – Move object
- Double tap and long press – Select object
- Double tap and press and drag – Scroll screen
- Double tap – Enter into first mode
The Issue With ‘Slidable’ Screens
While this would make to easier to navigate your device, there can be other issues too. First off, you have to understand that the screen wouldn’t emerge on its own, it will have to be ducked underneath the main display (according to the patent).
This sounds like a great idea, but there are a few potential issues with slidable screens. First, the screen would have to be exposed to the elements when it’s extended. This could be a problem in hot weather, as the screen could get hot and uncomfortable to hold.
Second, there’s no way to protect the secondary screen from damage. If the phone is dropped or bumped, the screen could easily be cracked or scratched.
While the technology hasn’t matured, we hope to see better in the future, but till then this is all we know. We will make sure to keep you updated on all developments as new information becomes available.