Adrian Weckler: 'The future unfolds: Mobiles opening up to become movie-playing tablets on the move'
The era of the 'folding phone' has begun. Dull commuter journeys are to be livened up with new-fangled handsets that fold out to become movie-playing tablets.
At least, that's what the smartphone industry says will happen at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Samsung and Huawei, two of the top three phone makers in the world, have showcased the gadgets, which will go on release in Ireland in the coming weeks.
The phones work using bendable screens. A hinge sits down the middle of an eight-inch tablet, letting it fold neatly in half. When folded, it's a normal phone, albeit a slightly bulky one.
The only hitch at present is the price - more than €2,000 for either Samsung's or Huawei's new toys. There's also the small detail that movies and Netflix shows typically play in a rectangular shape, not a square tablet.
To make up for this, Samsung says you will be able to write your emails and WhatsApp messages on different parts of the phone screen while you watch the movie.
Despite the initial high price, a number of other companies have said they will develop folding tablet-phones with video-hungry consumers in mind.
Mobile World Congress has also witnessed several other new movie-centric phones for the Irish market launched, including Sony's Xperia 1, the first to use a 4K Oled screen.
Sony has yet to announce a price for Xperia 1, although it is expected to be close to €1,000.
The Xperia 10 and 10 Plus handsets, with six-inch and 6.5-inch displays, feature dual cameras on the back of the phone. Sony is trying to position all three phones as "creator" handsets.
'Hyper' camera phones were also launched, with Nokia's re-emergence in the phone world buttressed by a new Android model with five cameras on the rear of the device, all to create extra precision for a single photo.
The dominant theme of this year's conference, which will see more than 100,000 tech, telecoms and media industry executives in attendance, is 5G.
While Irish operators are not expected to have 5G networks up and running for normal consumers before the end of this year, the industry is competing furiously on who will benefit from the technology.
The technology has caused international controversy with the US government pitting itself against Huawei, which is leading the roll-out of 5G networks across Ireland and Europe.
Executives from the Chinese company again denied that there is any security risk from deploying Huawei equipment in "core" mobile networks, arguing that US suspicions of governmental influence from China are unfounded.
A number of senior European countries, including Germany and Britain, look to have rejected the thrust of security fears over deploying the Chinese company's gear in 5G networks.