The ink on the marketing brochures for the recently released Samsung Galaxy S9 is barely dry and the rumours are already flying about next year’s update. For a while, there’s been speculation that a folding OLED display would be coming soon. According to leaks from South Korea, “coming soon” has been defined as Mobile World Congress 2019.
Folding OLED displays have a wide range of potential applications. I can see it being used in e-book readers to give readers an experience closer to that of physical books. But for smartphones, it offers a way to keep devices small and give users an option for a larger display.
While zooming by using gestures and responsive websites have made mobile browsing pretty good, there’s no substitute for a little bit of extra screen real estate. A folding display would deliver that.
According to the Google Translate version of this page, at The Bell, the new phone has been given the code name “Winner”. This is a switch from the previous code name, Valley, signalling a move from development to production.
The new phone is rumoured to have three 3.5-inch displays. Two will fold into each other to create a wider display when opened, with the third on the back so you can use the device without having to unfold it.
If the rumours are true, this would be the first significant update to the smartphone design since the introduction of the first iPhone over a decade ago. If you take that first iPhone, it’s easy to see the evolution of the smartphone from what we had then to where we are today. But a three-screen foldable smartphone would be a massive shift that would put most other smartphone makers on the back foot.