Foldable smartphones are (almost) upon us

by: Kris CarlonJanuary 8, 2016
3.9K

samsung-foldable-smartphone

LG may have stolen the show at CES 2016 with its rollable AMOLED display, but Samsung is now in the headlines with analysts predicting a foldable smartphone from the Korean firm later this year. Project Valley, or Project V as it is also known, could come in one of several patented form factors.

Lg flexible display (1)See also: Report: flexible displays will dominate the future with foldable, rollable and even stretchable panels5

Analysts at HSBC Bank are claiming Samsung could release its first commercial foldable smartphone in H2, 2016 as a means to capture both the smartphone and tablet markets, provide a larger screen size in a smaller form factor, and offer a truly unique product differentiator.

samsung-roadmap-bend-flex-display

Now, you may remember way back in 2013 when that display technology roadmap leaked, outlining Samsung’s plans for curved, bendable and foldable displays. The Galaxy Round was a short-lived experiment and I suppose you could consider the Galaxy S6 Edge a bent screen rather than a curved screen, but the appearance of a truly foldable display would be revolutionary.

Several Samsung patents already exist for foldable display devices, with some looking like a wallet, others like a Nintendo DS, a couple like a book and even one that unrolls from a scroll. No matter which form factor the first device assumes, Samsung is working on a whole bunch of different possible designs, many of which have already been previewed.

Samsung folding display patent

It’s difficult to predict whether the company will release multiple devices onto the market at the same time – perhaps a scrollable and flexible tablet, tri-fold smartphone and folding book-format tablet simultaneously as a new product line – or focus its efforts on one revolutionary new device to see how it sells. The only certainty is that Samsung will want to beat LG to the punch.

Lg flexible display (2)See also: Report: LG set to begin mass-production of foldable displays8

All of this makes it entirely possible that we will see a foldable or otherwise flexible device from Samsung this year. Samsung has the display tech, R&D, motivation and track record to make it happen. But, like the Galaxy Note 5, it won’t be a global launch. According to Sam Mobile, the device will not see a US release, at least not at launch.

Samsung rollable tablet

Specs surrounding the rumored Project Valley device follow the Galaxy S6 Edge+ quite similarly (the S6 Edge+ model number is SM-G928 and the leaked model number for Project V is SM-G929F). Two variants are reportedly being tested, one powered by the Snapdragon 820 and another by the Snapdragon 620. Considering the 620 was announced almost a year ago, the 820 sounds like a safer bet.

Samsung tri-fold folding smartphone display

Other specs point to 3 GB of RAM and the presence of a microSD card slot. But all of these details could change dramatically by the time the device actually appears. With Samsung Unpacked scheduled for IFA 2016 and stand-alone events for major product launches becoming more common, there’s no easy way to pick a launch date.

The really interesting question is not so much exactly when it will happen – it’ll be soon enough – but rather what form factor the first device assumes. What would you prefer? A tri-fold smartphone? Foldable book? Rollable slate?

  • saksham

    yasss thats what im talking about

  • Alan Pearce

    Would love the design in the first photo. Small tablet, but stowable as a phone.

    With the Remote Desktop stuff that I like doing, the tablet/phone hybrid would be very handy.

    • The Bang4Buck Gamer

      I do that too.

  • sjpn

    I think a Z-type fold would be more practical so that when it’s all folded up, one screen is still exposed as a phone. When it is fully unfolded, it is a large screen tablet.

  • Wolf0491

    I think it is a great idea. I would want one screen available when closed though to use like a regular phone and then when sitting down you can open it for things you need a bigger screen.

  • TheScientists

    Would love to have a 5″ phone that unfolds into a 10″ tablet. One device for all purposes.

  • Xandercom

    A phone that unfolds into a tablet, which unfolds into a laptop, which unfolds into a 40″ 4k

  • !magine

    Screen is one thing, battery and other internals is another thing altogether. Hard to see how several of these designs would work as a phone and not just a screen. I could also see them as a ‘Smart Screen’ Similar to smart watches – where they essentially connect to your smartphone.

  • Luiz Amaral ★彡

    If one screen drains fast the battery, imagine two!?
    They upgrade everything in a smartphone, but battery.
    Anyway, glad foldable screens are here!

  • Benedict

    Seeing those foldable screens, I believe touch GUIs are not the future. Even today on flat screens they are in most using cases inaccurate, slow and very unhandy. I hope this will change…

  • JM_66

    If only this could mean that the Microsoft Courier project could become a reality!

    • If Windows Phone will have this and a Stylus, then this surely generate excitement.

  • Note6 it shall be.

  • Shanice Ricketts

    B> This channel that talks about phone nexus 6p and honor 5x and so much more because always keep watching how i love the way you different kind of technology everyday for the year.

  • Ryan Jones

    I think any design would be cool; fold in half, retracts inside a tube, tri-fold…I don’t care. Literally any kind of foldable smart phone is cool.

    • Jennifer Lyonel

      Samsung Phones are now available only below

    • StanLee TOOL

      I like all the designs, but I’ll vote for whichever can support the best camera, as always.

  • fitnesspro22

    I don’t give a shit about this decadent, impractible design. No matter what, Samsung is a failing company.

    • Degus Jacoby Pradana

      Yeah its fail because its number 1 android

      • fitnesspro22

        Well, first off read the annual report of Samsung. Compared to the last year’s 80% increased earnings S is down to 15% now. Next, there is no question but that the best eAndroid is the Pure Android and that is Google with the Marshmallow.

        The problem with those S. Koreans is that they don’t know what to do. Last year tried to emulate Apple. Now, want to change for change sake. It never works but hurts. As much as I hate Apple, Samsung is no match for Apple thanks to the “sheep” who keep on buying phones that are 2 yrs behind the best Android. Samsung does not have such following. Percentage wise, smaller companies such as ASUS and the two top Chinese are performing better than S.

        • John Doe

          How exactly did they emulate Apple?
          I did not see Apple with a curved screen on their 6 or 6s screens.
          I have never seen Apple include a SPen device on their Plus phones ..
          How exactly are they emulating Apple again?
          And Samsung is not a failing company? Please do not forget that a company
          like Samsung does not need to rely totally on their phones, etc profit to be a profitable
          company like Apple has to rely on its phones, tablets .. etc
          Samsung is a huge Multi-National business, so they are not going anywhere any time soon.
          Even tho Samsung might have a few off quarters does not mean that they will fold the division,
          they just need to reorganize and redefine their place in the Mobile market, something that they have
          done before, and will continue to do in the future.

  • John Russell

    I just wonder how touch sensitivity will be affected

    • Alan Pearce

      Never thought of that, but it’s a good question.

  • Kunal Narang

    A display that can be folded as a notebook will be revolutionary!!

  • Victor Creed

    This could actually be good for tablets as well, by that I mean it could lead to more tablet optimized apps as this device will probably be a tablet style UI

  • Sam

    it’s looks cool but for a phone.
    needs to be rouged and durable as a phone get tossed and drooped allot.
    i would think it would better serve as a a tablet.
    guess you actually need to talk on one to see how it feels.

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  • Alexander Evans

    A pull out rolled up screen would be the best bet. A bit like the way a tape rule works.
    And when the screen is rolled away the body would have a lcd screen so you could use phone for basic txting and making calls .
    With a foldable phone you are going to end up with something that looks like a second wallet.
    Unless they invent a way to be able to make the screen crease proof with a prfectly flat fold.