By now, it's not much of a secret that Motorola is working on a folding phone of its own: A patent for such a device surfaced late last year, and a subsequent report in The Wall Street Journal basically confirmed the company's plans. Despite the ensuing hype, Motorola has mostly kept quiet about its progress, but in an interview with Engadget this week, Motorola VP of Global Product Dan Dery shed some additional light on the company's ambitions.
"We started to work on foldables a long time ago," Dery said. "And we have been doing a lot of iteration."
In many ways, talking to Dery about Motorola's foldable future is like peering through a light fog: You're fairly sure of what lies on the other side, but the details are slightly obscure. That said, Dery did tacitly confirm an upcoming release. The original report from The Wall Street Journal also suggested that the company's foldable could launch by the end of February, but that's clearly not happening. Dery instead said that Motorola has "no intention of coming later than everybody else in the market," and considering the upcoming launch dates for the Samsung Galaxy Fold (in April) and Huawei's Mate X (in mid 2019), it seems safe to assume that we're looking at a Motorola launch by summer.
Despite his low-key confirmation, Dery continued to make some oblique -- but surprisingly specific -- observations that happen to confirm what we've learned in earlier reports. Consider the flip-phone-inspired design seen in Motorola's patent filing. It clearly depicts a smartphone (with distinct RAZR-like styling) that features a large internal display that bends in half when the device is closed.
It's an especially unorthodox look compared to what other foldable makers have unveiled so far, and that's potentially a good thing. While he thinks the screen-on-the-outside approach adopted by Samsung and Huawei is "the nicest and the purest" way to go, Dery believes the inherent fragility of those displays meant Motorola had to find a different way forward.
"We have been testing a plastic OLED device with plastic film on top," he said, referring to the same kind of design Huawei used for its Mate X. "The fact that you're touching [that kind of display] with your nails is scratching it. It has a short life right away; it starts dying the day you unpack it. But it's beautiful. That first day, it's beautiful."