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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Linked by Jason Snell

This is the year phones get weird

We discussed the idea of foldable phones at length on Upgrade this week, and I wrote about it last week for Tom’s Guide. It’s feeling increasingly timely given the stories today about Xiaomi’s folding phone.

Looking at the bigger picture is Lauren Goode at Wired:

Smartphones, it seems, have gotten weird. And they’re only going to get weirder in 2019. Our glass slabs will be punctuated by pop-out cameras, foldable displays, hole-punched notches, and invisible fingerprint sensors. These features will be marketed as innovations. Some will be innovative. Some will just be weird, in the way that tech inevitably feels forced when design decisions are borne out of a need to make mature products appear exciting and new.

As Goode quite rightly points out, a lot of these experiments with new smartphone features will be flops. There is definitely a familiar vibe about a lot of these “innovations” that reminds me of the TV market after the explosion of HDTV sales cooled. (Remember 3D TV?)

But a few of these innovations may turn out to be surprisingly useful. I’d be shocked if Apple didn’t have a lab somewhere trying to figure out what the proper user interaction would be for a foldable iPhone. In the meantime, various phonemakers will be testing this stuff in public, and users will be left to discover for themselves if these features are all they’re cracked up to be.