OPINION: Foldable laptops have been the next big thing for… well, the past three years now. Yet the only mainstream foldable laptop that’s currently available to buy is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold, and that was met with underwhelming reviews.
But that could be about to change, with new leaks (via Twitter leaker @UniverseIce) suggesting Samsung could be set to announce a 17-inch foldable laptop called the Galaxy Book Fold 17.
While we have nothing to go by other than this leaked name, Samsung did showcase a concept device in a YouTube video earlier this year, which looks suspiciously like the 17-inch foldable tipped for release.
This device has lots of exciting features such as an “under panel camera” and a 17-inch foldable OLED screen, which can be easily switched between laptop and tablet mode. We can’t be sure whether Samsung will retain all of the features from this concept device, but the foldable form alone looks very impressive. But how will it be in practise?
It’s impossible to know for sure at this stage, as we’re still in uncharted waters when it comes to foldable laptops. The Lenovo X1 Fold is the only one I’ve actually had hands-on experience with, but following my brief time with the device, I can confidently say that the operating system will be the biggest stumbling block for foldables.
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The X1 Fold just didn’t feel right with Windows 10. It felt sluggish when transitioning between laptop and tablet mode, and the software just wasn’t flexible enough to maximise the device’s versatility, which is a big problem considering its extravagant price point.
However, Microsoft has big plans to solve this issue, with Windows 11 reportedly offering far more flexibility for foldable and dual-screen devices when compared to its predecessor. Microsoft even seemingly delayed its own dual-screen Surface Neo until it could address this issue with its operating system, emphasizing how important Windows 11 will be for foldables.
But with Windows 11 not launching until 5 October 2021, we still can’t be sure whether Microsoft has delivered on its promise to improve the experience for foldable devices – Microsoft has only really demoed Windows 11 with laptops and tablets so far. And even if it has introduced lots of improvements for foldable form factors, it will likely take several post-launch updates to iron out all the kinks.
With that in mind, it doesn’t really matter whether Samsung’s rumoured Galaxy Book Fold 17 has the perfect spec sheet and a flawless foldable design (which I highly doubt given our review of the Galaxy Fold smartphone), as it could still end up a failure if Windows 11 doesn’t live up to expectations. For this reason, I’m assuming we won’t see Samsung’s foldable laptop appear in stores any time soon – 2022 feels like a far safer bet.