Foldable smartphones are actually ushering in a new era of phone use. This is both a new and a “well-forgotten”, and therefore understandable and familiar form factor. But the most important thing about these devices is the foldable display, which was not created as a demonstration of capabilities and technology for technology’s sake. It will create new opportunities for application developers, which will inevitably result in a new useful user experience for all of us. Such a new feature is Flex Mode, which first appeared in the Galaxy Z Flip, and now in the new Galaxy Z Fold2, which has added new functions and expanded the number of applications running in it.
What is Flex Mode and why is it needed
I don’t know about you, but in the February presentation of Unpacked, at which the Galaxy S20 series was presented, I was most impressed not by this flagship, but by the Z Flip clamshell. And I especially liked that the developers immediately thought about what new use scenarios a bending smartphone screen could give, suggesting to use an external display during shooting. In this case, the second part of the bending smartphone acts as a stand for the phone – it can be placed on a table or any other flat surface. This is what they called Flex Mode: literally “flexible mode”, in which the main screen is divided into two independent parts, formally keeping one application window (this is not a multi-window mode, this is another – everything happens in one application). At the same time, the usefulness of the mode was so obvious that the company announced the very next day after the world premiere that it would appear on all other Samsung smartphones with flexible displays, which is certainly correct.
The document on the Samsung developer website says that Flex Mode is a mode in which the display is slightly open and it has two states (we already know that this is an opening at 75 and 115 degrees, as well as a technology called CAM. which allows us to fix it). At 75 degrees, an external screen is used (for example, for watching videos or video calls), while the second part of the smartphone plays the role of a convenient stand (yes, this looks like a small advantage for a smartphone priced at a couple of thousand dollars, but think about how quickly the world will change and in a few years such devices will conquer the market). You no longer need to hold your smartphone in your hands or look for some kind of replacement for the stand, leaning it somewhere, from where the phone risks slipping and lying flat.
The second mode uses the main screen, which is divided into two independent zones, turning into a kind of subnotebook that fits in your pocket. That is, the upper part plays the role of a display, and the lower part serves as a touch screen to control what is happening. For example, you can watch YouTube videos and read comments by scrolling across the bottom of the screen. The screenshot below is of course 2D and may not show you the bending of the screen, but it was shot in Flex Mode.
How to use it in practice? For example, these pictures were taken in Flex Mode. the smartphone was just lying on the floor, I chose a convenient angle by adjusting the angle of the lid. If it weren’t for a smartphone with a folding screen, I probably would have had to lie on the floor to get such shots, capturing the shooting scene I needed.
This is how it looks in real life. The upper part of the screen works as a camera viewfinder, the lower one allows you to control the camera settings and see a preview of the pictures taken.
Which applications have Flex Mode
So far, there are not many of them: this is a smartphone camera (and I must say, one is already enough to work in Flex Mode to cause a wow effect), YouTube and video calling applications (for example, Google Duo). Here you can add video playback on an external screen, when the second half of the smartphone plays the role of a natural stand, because formally this is also Flex Mode. This minimal set is already worth it to give the Galaxy Z Fold2 user the daily feeling of making the right choice and buying the right thing – something new, cutting edge and technological.
Clearly, Flex Mode, like the entire foldable display segment, is at the very beginning of its journey. But today they already give what they were created for – new sensations and new possibilities that are not available to traditional smartphones. And in the future we will get even more applications with Flex Mode support – Google has not in vain fit into this topic, clearly intending to add the corresponding functionality, using the capabilities of smartphones with flexible screens for developers of applications for Android.
Three things to know about Flex Mode
- This is a new mode that works in smartphones with flexible displays, opening up new dimensions of the user experience.
- When working in it, the main screen of the application is divided into two independent zones.
- The application must be adapted to work in Flex Mode.