Update – February 17, 2019 – A new report quotes LG Electronics mobile and TV head Brian Kwon at a press conference, who stated the company has “decided not to produce” a foldable smartphone for now. He did add that LG is “fully ready to respond depending on consumers’ reactions” to foldable smartphones. We have updated this article to reflect this apparent change in LG’s strategy.
We didn’t know a lot about LG’s foldable phone plans, but this article will piece together what we currently know, and what’s been reported via reliable, but unconfirmed, reports. We will update this article with the latest information on a regular basis.
Release date and price
LG had been working on a foldable phone. Speaking at a press conference in South Korea to celebrate the launch of the LG V40 ThinQ in the fall of 2018, LG Mobile CEO Hwang Jeong-hwan confirmed a phone with a flexible display was indeed under development.
However, Jeong-hwan added LG would not be the first company to launch a foldable phone, stating the company wants to make sure its device provides value to its customers. Noted gadget leaker Evan Blass claimed on Twitter in late 2018, LG would show off a foldable phone during the company’s keynote address at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.
I can’t speak for Samsung…
…but I do know that LG plans to unveil a foldable phone at its 2019 CES keynote.
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) October 31, 2018
However, CES 2019 came and went without such a flexible phone demo from LG. We reported at the time that LG changed its mind, and now it wants to focus on upcoming phones with a more concrete timeline. In a recent press conference, the Korea Times quoted LG Electronics mobile and TV head Brian Kwon, who stated the company has “decided not to produce” a foldable smartphone for now. He did add that LG is “fully ready to respond depending on consumers’ reactions” to foldable smartphones. So if other companies like Samsung, Huawei and other launch their own foldable phones, and they turn out to be successful, it’s likely that LG will join the trend at a later time.
We know the company’s LG Display subsidiary has been working on flexible displays for smartphone and tablets for years. Indeed, the display division has been quite busy applying for patents for flexible displays. One such patent, filed in 2017, showed off a design that looks like a standard smartphone when folded to show the full display, but closes in on itself vertically, with a hinge in the middle.
Such a design could allow the phone, when folded, to stand up vertically to take pictures with its rear camera without opening. It could also fold to fit in a shirt pocket.
A more recent patent application by LG, in early 2018, showed off a couple of slightly different designs. One shows a device that, when folded, has a form factor of a smartphone that shows information on the back screen, like the time and day. When folded out, the main screen has a tablet-like design. The second design proposed lets the back of the phone, in folded mode, move to the side so you can see always-on information.
Patent filings do not always mean a company is definitely going to launch the product included in its application. However, they give a sense of what LG is at least considering when they develop their foldable phone.
Working for rivals?
Even though LG makes its own smartphones and tablets, its LG Display division also creates phone screens for other companies. One recent rumor, via ETNews, claims LG Design is collaborating with Lenovo on a 13-inch tablet with a flexible display. The story says LG Design has been contracted to deliver an OLED foldable display to Lenovo sometime in the second half of 2019.
Neither LG nor Lenovo have confirmed this news, so take it with a grain of salt. However, if flexible displays on smartphones become more widespread, many of them will likely use screens supplied by LG Display.
That’s all the information we currently have on the LG foldable phone. Are you planning to check out this flexible phone when it is released, if ever? Let us know in the comments.