The idea of a foldable smartphone is not new, as countless design renders and concepts have been published over the years. It is not yet known if Samsung intends to announce foldable display technology, or the device will merely feature two separate displays. Regardless, the idea is neat, but we have yet to see if it translates well to real-world usage. Foldable devices are the next step in smartphone evolution and it is still unclear who is going to dominate the market, but LG, Lenovo and Samsung are at the forefront.
According to the report Samsung seems to have worked out the wrinkles on its much-rumored foldable phone and could unveil such a handset later this year. The electronics giant is working on a phone with a flexible display that folds devices the Korea Herald reported Wednesday. It is expected to ship more than 100,000 units during the third quarter, the sources described as familiar with the matter told the newspaper.
Initially, Samsung placed the screen on the inside of the fold, making it inaccessible to users when the device is closed. The company in August began the development of fold-out technologies that would allow the screen to be placed on the exterior of a folded phone. That way, users would still be able to interact with the phone without unfolding it.
Samsung is not the only firm working on a foldable smartphone design. Rival LG will reportedly produce over 100,000 foldable devices in the fourth quarter this year. LG is said to have been working on a similar device for the past two to three years and may possess more advanced technology than Samsung, sources said.
“Since the company already secured fold-in phone technology, it was not a big challenge to shift into the fold-out phones,” a source told The Korea Herald.
“Samsung is expected to roll out more than 100,000 units of fold-out devices in the third quarter,” the source continued, but the company is still determining whether such a device would be met with much demand. “The final decision will be made after the personnel reshuffle of the company’s information technology and mobile communications unit is carried out.”
LG is also looking to make 100,00 foldable devices in the fourth quarter, a different source said. Apparently, LG started development of fold-out technology two to three years ago, and its technology beats Samsung’s, at least according to this particular source.
Interestingly, LG may use the folding screens for smartphones built by other companies rather than in its own devices, with the report noting Apple and Huawei as potential clients.
Round the Edge
The closest thing we actually got to a foldable phone from Samsung in 2013 was the Samsung Galaxy Round. This was far from the prototypes and concepts we’d seen, but as the world’s first curved screen smartphone it was a big step in the right direction.
That was followed up by the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, which curved in a now more familiar direction, one which Samsung has since fully embraced with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and other phones with curved edges.
We got our closest look to date of the highly anticipated foldable smartphone on November 9 from Sammobile. A patent application reveals a number of renders and illustrates the smartphone’s hinge from a number of angles.
The main thing is that the display is likely to be OLED, Samsung revealed its rollable OLED display tech at SID last year – so there’s little doubt about that.
Additionally, Samsung is also rumoured to work on a clam-type smartphone. Unlike regular clam smartphones, the company is said to start small production of its first foldable model sporting a flexible AMOLED display in the fourth quarter of 2017. Digitimes cites sources from Taiwan’s handset supply chain and adds that the company has already applied patents related to foldable smartphones to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in late 2016.