Waterproof and durable, can Samsung remove the “fragile” stereotyped label of the folding screen this time?

Before starting the topic, I want to share an interesting incident that happened recently in the editorial department.

In the past two months, the mobile phone industry can be said to have been overwhelming. Major manufacturers have rushed to release their own flagships in the first half of the year, so that every few days, a new machine "redefining XX" will come to the editorial department. It's no surprise to everyone in the flagship offices.

It was not until the arrival of the Galaxy Z Flip 3 that this calm atmosphere was broken. As soon as it was unpacked, Flip3 was surrounded by a group of "fans" who wanted a real face, three layers inside and three layers outside, just like the idol pick-up for fans in a fan circle.

What's interesting is that after a circle of celebrities sharing photos and clocking in, everyone returned to their seats contentedly, leaving Flip3 to charge alone on the table. Only fingerprints on the full screen can prove that the excitement of the past has really existed. .

"Don't you want to use it?" I asked Xiaohua next to him.

"I want to use it, but I dare not use it." Xiao Hua said with a sigh.

It seems that although folding screen technology has entered its third year so far, "beautiful but fragile" is still the most obvious label on it.

Small repairs to the exterior, and a new interior

Samsung recently released the third generation of its own folding screen product line, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3. Compared with the previous two generations, there seems to be less discussion today.

The first two generations of Fold have always been responsible for the flow of topics in the mobile phone circle. The first generation of Fold brings unprecedented folding freshness. Fold 2 has made up for the various defects of the first generation of phones. By Fold 3, everything seems to be "nothing." strange".

Even if you put Fold 2 and Fold 3 together, you may not be able to tell who is the "brother" if you don't look closely. The same folding structure, the same internal and external screen size, it seems that Fold 3 is just an update of the camera module and the screen. Down the camera.

Unlike the major changes in the appearance of Fold 2, the focus of Fold 3 is placed in a place invisible to consumers-durability.

According to Samsung’s publicity, Fold 3 can be said to be one of the most durable folding screen mobile phones at present. Compared with Fold2, its screen is more durable, the shell is more resistant to fall, and it supports IPX8 waterproof level. It is also the first waterproof folding screen. cell phone.

The best way to see these changes is to take apart the beautiful Fold 3.

The concept of waterproof mobile phones is not new, whether it is the early Defy, Xperia, or the current iPhone, Galaxy S and other flagships all support IP68 level of dust and water resistance.

It is not a secret to build a waterproof body. It is nothing more than blocking the places where water enters such as the SIM card (rubber gaskets, etc.), and the places that cannot be blocked such as the interfaces are hydrophobic (special hydrophobic coating, etc.).

▲ Picture from: Samsung

But when it comes to folding screen mobile phones, the complexity of these problems has risen to a level. If the candy bar phone is regarded as a whole, then the folding screen mobile phone is equivalent to a combination of three independent parts, and the difficulty of waterproofing has also increased exponentially.

The first is "water blocking". This is a better solution. Samsung has sealed all visible holes and gaps. For example, use rubber gaskets around the SIM card, the edges of the screen, and the openings to be sealed with strong double-sided tape. .

The fingerprint recognition components have also been redesigned to achieve waterproofing in the smallest possible internal space.

The problem is that even if the blockage is too tight, the Fold3 will still get water, because the movable hinge will inevitably leave an intrusion gap for the water flow, and this is a problem that traditional candy bar phones don't have to face.

▲ Hinge dust-proof design from Flip

Since the previous generation, the hinge of Fold has added a "nylon broom" (inspired by a vacuum cleaner) design, which can clean and block the intrusion of dust to a certain extent, but for liquids with fluidity, A sophisticated broom can do nothing.

Direct contact with water also means that the precision hinge may rust due to this. In order to solve this problem, Samsung used a new anti-rust material when making the hinge, and sprayed it with a self-developed hydrophobic coating to make it hydrophobic. The role of protection.

After solving the water ingress of the hinge, there is still a big trouble for the folding screen, that is, the flexible circuit board that connects the two screens, which is like the nerve center of the folding screen, important and fragile.

In order to adapt to the characteristics of folding activities, the circuit of the folding screen cannot be simply welded to a straight board, but requires a certain amount of space for movement. A simple rubber seal is not enough to meet this three-dimensional requirement.

Samsung's solution is to open two "holes" on each side, then put the interface of the flexible circuit board into the "hole", and then inject it with a material similar to epoxy resin, and after it cures, it seals together with the rubber. The role of.

After some operation, this first waterproof folding screen mobile phone is a big success.

It should be noted that any hydrophobic coating may lose its function after being folded day after day.

Although Samsung claims that this self-developed coating can withstand 200,000 folding cycles and can withstand Coca-Cola's attack, users still have to treat the waterproof function rationally-it should be the "insurance" for life accidents, not for Responding to the "adventure" of heaven and earth.

▲ Picture from: Samsung

And while the durability is improved, the maintainability of Fold 3 is greatly reduced.

Because disassembling the mobile phone will inevitably destroy these sealing strips, protective layers, and coatings, and these special adhesives and materials are almost impossible to restore for general third-party repair shops and individuals. If you want to open Fold3 for repair, At present, it can only be hoped on Samsung's official after-sales service.

Not only is there an extra "pen"

In addition to waterproofing, Samsung is also improving the durability of folding in many "invisible" areas, such as new housing materials.

▲ Picture from: Samsung

The frame and hinge shell of Fold 3 and Flip 3 are replaced with "Armor Aluminum" which is stronger than ordinary aluminum materials-a special aluminum alloy obtained by incorporating a variety of metal elements.

In a demo video from Samsung, the researchers collided a piece of "armored aluminum" with ordinary aluminum alloy, and the "armored aluminum" had almost no damage, while the ordinary aluminum alloy had a gap.

Samsung claims that this is one of the strongest aluminum materials, which can protect the phone from deformation or scratches caused by external shocks.

In fact, it is not uncommon in previous generation products that the screen was damaged due to a drop. The greatly improved "Armor Aluminum" can provide better frame protection and provide more cushioning for the fragile screen on the inside when it is dropped.

▲ Picture from: Samsung

Open Fold 3 again, this 7.6-inch screen should be the biggest improvement on Fold3, it has nothing to do with the display, but only about durability and functionality.

Samsung said that the screens of Fold 3 and Flip 3 are still equipped with familiar UTG glass (ultra-thin glass). The difference is that this time Samsung also added a layer of PET film (polyethylene terephthalate) on top of the glass. Protect the screen from scratches and dents.

Compared with the previous generation products, the durability of the new generation screen combination has increased by 80%, which also gives Samsung the confidence to add another important feature: SPen from Note.

To use SPen to input on the folding screen is actually much more difficult than imagined.

Because SPen needs to add a layer of "digitizer" components under the screen to determine the position of the pen through electromagnetic resonance, Samsung needs to develop a flexible digitizer suitable for folding screens.

And the strength of the inner screen is much weaker than the glass screen of the Note series. It is easy to scratch the screen with the hard tip of an ordinary stylus.

▲ Picture from: Samsung

The difficulty of developing a flexible digitizer is not simpler than that of a flexible screen. In fact, the Fold 3 did not use this material in the end. Instead, two cut digitizers were used to realize the positioning of SPen through algorithms.

The problem of "paper" has been solved, and the "pen" will be upgraded accordingly.

The pen used on Fold 3 is different from the common SPen on Note: the special SPen nib for Fold 3 uses a round rubber design, and there is a spring at the end to allow the nib to expand and contract, and all of this is to reduce The pressure of the pen tip on the screen.

With the addition of the stylus, the Fold 3's large screen can be tapped into more potential, and the next problem for the Samsung team is how to put SPen back into the folding screen phone with an inch of gold inside. .

Folding means diversity

"What's the point of a folding screen?"

In the interview video of the Samsung Flip3 R&D team, this question was finally raised, and the members of the team gave their different opinions.

UX designers believe that folding screens can meet people's individual needs, CMF engineers believe that it can inject new vitality into people, and product managers believe that folding means diversity.

Since the release of the folding screen for more than two years, whenever a manufacturer followed up to release a folding screen mobile phone, the public has always debated whether the folding screen is the future of display technology or the "pseudo demand" advocated by the manufacturer.

An unavoidable problem is that in addition to folding up the large screen, the folding screen mobile phone has no killer applications that can poke people's pain points, and it has not opened the gap with the traditional straight-screen mobile phone in terms of information interaction.

Does this mean that folding screen mobile phones have no substantial application significance at the moment?

If we deny the meaning of folding screens only from a point of interactive innovation, then we are too harsh on folding screens.

Since the birth of smartphones, there have been few breakthroughs that can be regarded as innovative interactions; tablets between computers and mobile phones have only begun to get rid of the nickname of "large mobile phones" after being launched nearly ten years ago, and have gradually evolved Focus on large-screen interaction for light production.

The breakthrough of human-computer interaction is a tortuous and slow process. Folding the screen can bring a breakthrough in productivity, which is only the wishful thinking of technological romantics.

Rather than replacing and surpassing straight-screen mobile phones, the current folding screen mobile phones seem to have been catching up with it: the display quality, durability, experience, and even the price of the screen are in line with those of straight-screen mobile phones.

The main reason hindering the entry of foldable screen phones into the mainstream market is not the lack of usefulness of this movable screen, but the high price and unmatched reliability of foldable screen phones.

A mobile phone with a price of tens of thousands of yuan, the screen will be broken with one poke and cracked when dropped, and it is also prone to damage to the hinge due to dust. The cost-effective nature of such a ticket makes the folding screen doomed to be high and low.

Looking back at the design highlights of Samsung's Fold 3 and Flip 3 this time, you will find that "durability" has replaced "groundbreaking" as the theme of this year's upgrade.

More durable waterproof structure, more durable shell design, more durable screen combination, including the addition of SPen, these are Fold 3's efforts to catch up with the candy bar screen. Samsung has spared no effort to create a reliable image for the folding screen.

This can’t help but make people curious. With the maturity of hinge technology and the decline of upstream supply chain costs, when the price and durability of folding screen phones are comparable to those of straight screens, will “what is the meaning of straight screens” become a popular discussion. New topic.

Higher, higher.

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