While I haven’t met anyone who is desperate for a folding phone of their own, many people are nevertheless curious about what such a phone would look like, feel like and operate like. New information out of Bloomberg has unearthed an Aladdin’s cave of insights on the upcoming prototype.
The Bloomberg article cites sources ‘familiar with the matter’ in its update on Samsung’s folding phone, nicknamed ‘Winner’.
The article gives more details on a phone that thus far has been shrouded in mystery. For one, the actual shape of the phone and its fold is still up for debate, apparently, with designers still deciding between a phone that is longer vertically when opened, and one that is longer horizontally while opened – with both opening like a book.
Their sources say the vertically oriented design is currently more favoured, as it’s more ergonomic to hold. This would also come with a small (4 inch) third screen on the front to give access to basic features without requiring you to open the phone properly – so basically it’s like a much more high-tech flip phone.
Speaking of flip phones, there is also info about the phone’s ‘feel’. Supposedly the phone will in fact ‘snap’ into place like one of the old flip phones, rather than the more flexible bend you might imagine from the ‘folding’ descriptor.
While the upcoming S10 will have an in-display fingerprint sensor, this new tech isn’t quite compatible with the folding screen yet, so won’t make an appearance. The screen quality and look may also feel like a step down for anyone who is used to glass screens.
The new phone will use a modified version of Android for its OS, adding another step to the phone’s intense R&D period.
Bloomberg’s sources have cast doubts on some aspects of the phone’s release. Durability is a problem, for example – while prototypes have passed durability testing, this is never guaranteed to hold up through the mass-manufacturing process. It was a similar problem that caused the Galaxy Note battery fires, after all. Sources say the screen can shatter quite dramatically when it does fail.
There are also doubts about how quickly Samsung can get this phone to market and whether it’ll even be ready to show at the Samsung Developer Conference in November – despite Samsung’s DJ Koh saying otherwise.
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While every time we write about this weird-sounding new type of phone, we all wonder who the target market would be, analyst Cliff Maldonaldo gave Bloomberg an alternate answer: Basically that the point isn’t to sell phones at all. “If you think about how Samsung can differentiate itself and compete in this market, it’s with hardware,” Maldonado said. “That’s what their forte is, and their foldable phone is about positioning and branding.”