Samsung has been teasing the concept of a foldable smartphone for years now. Some of you may even remember that god awful promotional video they released back in 2014 that aged as well as those Back to the Future II predictions (linked below for your viewing pleasure/disgust). But now, we may finally see this concept become a material reality in what has been rumoured to be dubbed the Samsung Galaxy X/Samsung Galaxy F... and it will reportedly also function as a tablet.
"When we deliver a foldable phone, it has to be really meaningful to our customer," says DJ Koh, President of Samasung Mobile.
"If the user experience is not up to my standard, I don't want to deliver those kind of products."
Koh has been quick to kill the idea that this will simply be another novelty in the market, similar to the touchscreen+keyboard combo of the current Blackberry models, or indeed the Samsung Galaxy Round that, yep... you guessed it, used a completely curved display and body to make it round (now available only in Korea). Of course, this isn't the first time the company's head of mobile has insisted the foldable smartphone will be a certified fixture (or in his words, won't "... disappear after six to nine months after it's delivered..."). Though you can understand our skepticism.
"Possibly when we start selling the foldable phone, it may be a niche market, but definitely, it will expand... I'm positive that we do need a foldable phone."
Images from the Samsung Galaxy X/F's patent has indicated plans for a hidden display, activated when the phone is folded. Here, it will allow the user to view "key info" such as the date and time, messages, app notifications, and so forth without having to fully unfold. Diagrams based on the patent filings have been included below, courtesy of LetsGoDigital.
Over at the rumour mill, there have been rumblings about a flexible display with an "... electrically activated locking mechanism...". This entails a two-pane system that physically functions like a book, and an "unbreakable" 7.3 inch OLED (also rendered below courtesy of LetsGoDigital).
The game is certainly afoot at this point, with rival manufacturers scrambling to produce their own foldable handsets. To date, Lenovo, Huawei, and Xiomi have all hinted at the prospect of answering Samsung's challenge. Huawei has even upped the ante by announcing a limited quantity release next year. If Huawei manages to pull it off with the internal engineering of their Mate and P20 series, then it'll truly be game over for all Android competition (and possible Apple alike).
We could be getting the first actual glimpse of a prototype in the coming year, with a ship date of 2019. That's if old mate Koh keeps his promise, and what a big "if" that is. Incidentally, the ten-year anniversary of the Samsung Galaxy smartphones will also take place in 2019, making the year/occasion positively ripe for technological bombshells to be dropped.
More to come on this.