You might think the Samsung Edge display is cool, but something cooler is coming very soon. Samsung has been working on foldable displays for many years now, and the Korean giant might be ready to launch its first foldable smartphone in 2017. According to Korean news site ETNews, the product is known internally as a ‘smartlet’ and has a 7inch screen when unfolded, which becomes a 5inch device when folded.
Remember that dream you once had of a phone that folds out into a tablet? Samsung is set to make that dream come true in 2017, according to sources – and there’ll be a second device in tow as well.
However, a new report on foldable screen technology from the bank HSBC argues that the tech “will be here sooner than we think.”
“ThE Galaxy X; The foldable smartphone is upon us”
HSBC analysts argue that Samsung is likely to be one of the first to utilise the technology commercially, and we should expect to see a launch this year. (This won’t be in its flagship Galaxy S line, by the way: That’s due to launch in Q1 and rumours make no mention of a folding screen.)
Here’s the analysts’ rationale — emphasis ours:
We think Samsung will likely introduce foldable OLED smartphones as early as 2H16, versus market expectations of 2017, as the company tries harder to regain market share. In our view, foldable OLED smartphones could transform Samsung’s smartphone business, with the potential to become a ‘killer’ feature in the premium smartphone space given that (1) a foldable OLED model would provide it with a high degree of product differentiation; (2) it gives users the best of both world’s – namely, a larger screen size in a smaller form factor; and (3) it could enable the company to capture market share in both the smartphone and tablet markets with a single product. The coming roll-out of foldable OLED smartphones also bodes well for growth across the entire OLED panel supply chain: from the panel makers to equipment makers to materials suppliers.
In short: Samsung is struggling to regain market share, and a foldable screen would give it a truly unique selling point, setting it apart from every other product on the market.
And, as an added bonus, the larger screen sizes the fold would create would let Samsung gobble up part of the tablet market too.
Where and when will THE Galaxy X be unveiled?
It’s only a matter of time before we get a bendable smartphone – and the first one will probably come from Samsung, given all the research and development the company has been doing in that area. The company is apparently considering building two new smartphone models — with one that folds like a wallet. One of the two devices will have a 5-inch screen when used as a cellphone, but it can be rolled out to show off an 8-inch display.
Another rumor from a Weibo user via Sammobile says the South Korean giant will release five smartphones in 2017 — the Samsung Galaxy S8, the S8 Edge, the Galaxy Note 7, the Note 7 Edge, and the Galaxy X. The Galaxy X is the highlight here, as it will be an entirely new category of Samsung’s lineup that will focus on the company’s foldable display for smartphones.
How about the specifications of THE Galaxy X?
Samsung is allegedly testing two variants of the device, with the main difference being the processor. One has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 620, while the other has the Snapdragon 820. These are some of the newest processors from Qualcomm that feature Quick Charge 3.0, but if a launch is slated for 2017, it’s likely Samsung will opt for something newer down the road.
The only other specs that were revealed with this report include 3GB of RAM, a MicroSD slot for expanded storage, and a non-removable battery. The presence of a MicroSD slot will be welcomed by many, but it’s unlikely this phone will be all that affordable, at least early on.
A truly unique selling point of ThE Galaxy X
One of the rumoured features for the S7 — Samsung’s next big phone — is a pressure-sensitive screen. It is rumoured that the smartphone will be able to tell how hard you are pressing on the screen and react accordingly — a feature very similar to Apple’s “Force Touch,” which it introduced to the iPhone 6s back in September 2015.
Samsung has been accused of copying Apple like this for years, and has even been targeted by lawsuits alleging that it has infringed upon the Cupertino company’s patents.
A foldable smartphone, on the other hand, would be truly unique — and ideally positioned to grab swathes of the high-end smartphone market.
It seems that Samsung has managed to surmount the technological hurdles that stand in the way of making such a device, including making the screen robust, yet flexible enough to withstand daily rigors.
Of course all of this is just rumor for now, but apparently Samsung is aiming for a launch in early 2017, with one or both models possibly set to appear at MWC in late February.
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of a foldable smartphone launch from Samsung in 2017. Just a month ago we reported that a flexible screen – dubbed the Samsung Galaxy X – might be launched next year, complete with a 4K display to keep the resolution high when the phone is bent.
We’ll keep updating this article as we learn more about Samsung’s Galaxy X.