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What we know so far about Samsung's foldable phone (Updated: Feb. 19)
Update, February 19 (9:30 a.m. EST): We’ve updated this article with a new report claiming that the Samsung foldable phone will be sold under the Samsung Galaxy Fold name.
Samsung confirmed the first details about its foldable phone at the Samsung Developers Conference on November 7, 2018. When it gets released, it could start the next major revolution in the mobile phone industry.
Samsung didn’t confirm a release date in its announcement on November 7 but indicated a release in 2019 is all but certain.
In this roundup, we take a look at what we currently know about the anticipated Samsung foldable phone, along with all of the rumors about this device that have been reported over the years.
We will be updating this article with the latest plausible news and rumors about this foldable smartphone from Samsung as they are reported.
Samsung foldable phone: Name, release date, and price
At its developer conference in November, Samsung announced the first details about its foldable phone. Samsung played coy, announcing its screen technology is called Samsung Infinity Flex Display but didn’t show us too much, dimming the lights to hide design details. Further, Samsung didn’t hint at a name or a potential release date for the device.
Samsung Galaxy Fold— Evan Blass (@evleaks) February 19, 2019
There have been consistent rumors relating to the phone’s production and speculated release date. In April, The Bell reported that Samsung planned to start production of the device in November with the aim of releasing it in early 2019. MK, citing a senior official from Samsung, later said it is preparing to release the device in the first quarter of 2019.
In early January, the WSJ posted an update, stating the foldable phone will be shown by the company as part of its Samsung Unpacked press event in San Francisco on February 20, which is where it will also officially reveal the Galaxy S10. Samsung has since confirmed this in a tweet.
— Samsung Mobile (@SamsungMobile) February 11, 2019
Those looking to get their hands on a foldable phone should perhaps start saving now, however: MK suggests Samsung will sell the device for close to 2 million won (around $1,791). In the middle of July, meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal alleged that the phone could cost over $1,500.
Whether either of these reports are accurate or not, Samsung’s first folding screen phone certainly won’t be cheap.
Samsung foldable phone: Specs and design
Samsung did let us in on some details about the phone’s displays and user interface.
Samsung’s folding phone will have two displays: a tall 4.5-inch 840 x 1960 screen on the outside or front of the device, and a foldable 7.3-inch 1536 x 2152 display on the inside. Bloomberg reports this would not feature an in-display fingerprint sensor, due to the difficulties of putting such a sensor with the screen technology.
Though Samsung had a prototype device on stage at the developer conference, it was encased in a thick box to stop people getting a proper look at it. Because of this, we are still unsure what the final version of the phone will look like.
Samsung did show some renders of a foldable device, however. These renders showed a device with fairly big bezels around the outer display and much smaller bezels around the inner, foldable, display. We don’t know if these images will be anything like the final design but we are expecting refinements.
Not much else was confirmed in terms of specs or the phone’s design. Recently, a video was posted, and then quickly removed, on Samsung’s Korea YouTube channel that briefly showed a concept for a foldable phone. However, it’s likely this is not the final design for the actual Samsung flexible smartphone.
Samsung has unveiled details about the device’s UI. The layout of the UI will automatically change depending on whether the device is folded or unfolded. There will also be continuity between the two displays; if you are using an app on the front screen then open the phone, the app will automatically open on the larger inner display.
Additionally, Samsung introduced multi-active window, a multitasking system that will allow you to run up to three apps at once on the larger display.
Samsung released a video via its Twitter account hinting the phone would be usable in various positions. In the video, an animated icon moves from a fully folded position to a fully open position, stopping halfway through the animation. This suggests the phone will be usable when closed, partially open, and fully open.
Samsung will probably want to equip the phone with a large battery to go with the large display. SamMobile reported Samsung would begin producing flexible batteries with capacities ranging from 3,000mAh to 6,000mAh later this year.
XDA Developers unearthed Framework files referencing Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8150 (Snapdragon 855) chipset in relation to Samsung’s folding Android phone. It’s very likely this will be the SoC used.
As for the cameras, recent speculation from etnews suggests the phone will have a triple rear camera setup, like what Samsung used on the recent Galaxy A7. The setup would apparently consist of a similar dual camera + wide-angle camera setup as the midrange A7, though the folding Galaxy’s sensors may be the more powerful.
In unconfirmed impressions from CES 2019, The Investor reports that some people got to see a prototype of the Samsung foldable phone behind closed doors at the company’s booth. One person claims that, when unfolded, the phone does not show a crease in the middle. It did show a crease when it is in its folded state, but Samsung reportedly will fix this in the final production version.
Another report from the same story claims Samsung only plans to make 1 million units of the foldable phone, which is far less than the units it makes for its flagship Galaxy S series.
Samsung foldable phone: Possible rivals?
While Samsung has been the biggest talking point in regard to foldable phones, it’s not the only company that has shown interest in this kind of device.
We have seen phones released with twin displays that fold into each other, connected by a hinge, from companies like Sony and from ZTE with the Axon M. The Royole FlexPai also beat Samsung to the punch as the world’s first foldable smartphone.
Huawei has also revealed it is working on a foldable phone of its own. Recent speculation indicates the company is working with LG Design on the flexible display for it, with an inward form factor, and that it was hoping to launch it by November, possibly beating Samsung to the punch.
In 2016, Lenovo showed off prototype concepts for a foldable smartphone and tablet, including a phone that could literally wrap around a person’s wrist (seen above). Lenovo has since confirmed it is working on a foldable phone, but said it isn’t concerned with being first to market.
Are you excited about the prospect of a foldable phone from Samsung? Let us know in the comments.