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A field guide to the wacky future of folding phones

Remember when people used to joke that every new phone was the same rounded rectangle? Those days are officially gone. Now, handset manufacturers are falling over themselves to one-up each other with designs that go entirely off the rails because you can build a phone a ton of different ways when you’ve got screens that can fold.

We’ve barely seen the first wave of foldable phones, and there are nearly as many different shapes as there are handsets. What should we call them? Back before every phone was effectively a phablet, we had all sorts of categories: flip phones, candy bars, sliders, swivels, the original brick phones, and, of course, the infamous taco.

So we figured it’s about time to get this conversation started. Here at The Verge, we put our heads together to come up with this totally 100 percent official list of the absolutely positively unimpeachably best names you could possibly use to describe each and every type of folding phone we’ve seen so far — and a few that don’t yet exist.


Clearly, a waiter is going to bring us the bill in one of these. Here’s hoping the little flap that holds a credit card hasn’t broken off yet.

Examples of the form: Samsung Galaxy Fold

Something we could all agree to call it: a pamphlet phone



Salvador Dalí would be proud — or very confused.

Examples of the form: Royole Flexpai, one of TCL’s DragonHinge prototypes

Something we could all agree to call it: a folding tablet



I wish I had one of these back in school instead of a three-ring binder filled with notes and homework. Also, it would have been nice to have Google and Wikipedia and… am I old?

Examples of the form: Huawei Mate X, Oppo’s folding prototype

Something we could all agree to call it: a matchbook phone



For the discerning vault dweller.

Examples of the form: Nubia Alpha

Something we could all agree to call it: a bracelet phone



Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.

Examples of the form: Motorola RAZR-like patent image (the real device may be totally different)

Something we could all agree to call it: a flip phone, of course



In a textbook example of “have your cake and eat it, too,” LG managed to make part of the conversation around folding phones without actually announcing one. Because it announced this fancy folio, that adds a second screen to a normal phone instead. You can probably expect others to follow LG’s lead. Does LG have any better ideas?

Examples of the form: LG’s Dual Screen attachment for the LG G8 ThinQ

Something we could all agree to call it: not a foldable phone



Uh yes, that would be an affirmative. LG does have better ideas. LG, please take your fancy rollable TV screens and build a stretchy digital newspaper-sized tablet right out of Minority Report, stat.

Examples of the form: One of LG’s patent images

Something we could all agree to call it: a rollable tablet



Screens go on the inside to protect them with little to no gap. It evokes fond memories of the golden age of handheld gaming. Sold.

Examples of the form: One of LG’s patent images, one of TCL’s DragonHinge prototypes

Something we could all agree to call it: a book phone



Unlike the “Pip-Boy Mini,” this one actually looks like a phone when flattened out — a very long phone that doesn’t fit in a pocket. But where you’re going, you don’t need pockets.

Examples of the form: Lenovo CPlus prototype, one of TCL’s DragonHinge prototypes

Something we could all agree to call it: a slap bracelet phone



We also considered “The Money Clip” and “The Scarf.” Either way, it’s more of a status symbol than a practical phone.

Examples of the form: One of TCL’s DragonHinge prototypes

Something we could all agree to call it: not nearly bendy enough to fit in a pocket



The screen stretches to get taller. Humanity has barely managed to build bendy phones, and, honestly, this doesn’t seem that plausible with today’s technology.

Examples of the form: LG patent image for a stretchy phone

Something we could all agree to call it: an accordion phone



Okay, I’m pretty sure that screens can’t do this yet. But if we’re daydreaming, we might as well dream big. Let’s say it’s a holographic screen, too? I’m imagining it projecting an itsy-bitsy Aladdin and Jasmine up on top of this magic carpet right now.

Example of the form: One of LG’s patent images

Something we could all agree to call it: a twistable phone


The honest truth? We couldn’t find the right name for Xiaomi’s folding phone prototype above. “The Konmari” sparks joy, but it’s not quite right. She folds clothes first, yes, but she also rolls.

I suppose that’s an opportunity for you to weigh in, dear reader. What say you?


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