Vivo X Fold turns up the heat in Samsung’s foldable line

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The latest foldable smartphone to hit China is the Vivo X Fold. This is the first foldable device that could be called a flagship of 2022, with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC. The phone costs 8,999 yen in China, or about $1,400.

This device looks as good as a Galaxy Z Fold 3, with an 8-inch 120Hz 2160×1916 OLED display as the main display inside and a 6.53-inch 120Hz 2520× OLED display 1080 on the outside. Alongside the new Qualcomm chip, it has 12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, an Android 12 build and a 4,600mAh battery.

For most of our non-Chinese readers, the most interesting thing about Vivo making a foldable device is that it is a BBK Electronics company along with Oppo, OnePlus, Realme and iQoo. The BBK companies all share the same parts and tech, so there’s hope that OnePlus will one day dig through the BBK parts bin and bring a foldable device to a wider audience. Oppo made a splash in the foldable market back in December with the Find N, and both this phone and the Vivo X Fold show how close China is to catching Samsung’s foldable lead.

Even the hinge looks borrowed from Samsung.

Even the hinge looks borrowed from Samsung.

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Almost everything you would call a technological advantage for the Galaxy Z range has already been adapted by BBK. The 8-inch 120Hz foldable display has an A+ rating from Display Mate. The display is covered in “ultra-thin glass” from Schott, the same company Samsung partnered with for the Z line. (Ultra-thin glass still has a plastic layer as the top layer, but the inner flexible glass layer makes the screen more rigid than a soft, all-plastic display.)

Oppo can match Samsung’s display capabilities because it has it use Samsung. A report from TheElec has identified Samsung Display as the supplier of the Oppo Find N display, so it’s a good bet that Samsung also makes the Vivo display. Samsung is a huge conglomerate made up of different divisions, each with its own CEO, and as reported last year, Samsung Display is done giving Samsung Electronics exclusive access to its foldable technology. It’s not the best move for Samsung Electronics’ market share, but as a conglomerate, Samsung makes more money selling components than it does selling phones. Your phone might say Apple or Samsung or OnePlus, but Samsung makes money no matter what.

The exterior and interior displays.  These black and white circles mark the locations of the fingerprint reader.

The exterior and interior displays. These black and white circles mark the locations of the fingerprint reader.

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In addition to Samsung display technology, BBK also beat Samsung in integrating in-screen fingerprint readers into a foldable display. Samsung had to do without side fingerprint readers on the Galaxy Z range, but the Vivo X Fold has it two Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint reader: one in the smaller outer display and one in the foldable main display.

We almost forgot the best part: it also has BBK’s fast charge technology and can charge at 66W (it comes with an 80W charger, but the official spec sheet says it charges at 66W). With a 4,600mAh battery, 66W should be enough to fully charge it in less than half an hour. One problem with foldable phones is that the center hinge takes up a lot of space that would otherwise be used for the battery. A 4,600mAh battery is pretty small for an 8-inch display, but that’s really inevitable with a foldable device. If you are a fast charging technology company, you have an important solution to this problem. Charging in the middle of the day isn’t a big problem if that charging session only lasts 30 minutes.

Samsung Display’s willingness to be a component supplier means the best of Samsung is being sold to Samsung Electronics’ competitors. When you buy a BBK phone, you can get the best of Samsung and the best of BBK, which is a tough combination for Samsung to compete with. All we need is a BBK company to start selling these things internationally. Hey OnePlus, where’s that foldable?

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