Fresh details have emerged about Samsung's foldable smartphone concept - a product tentatively dubbed the Samsung Galaxy X. According to Samsung's DJ Koh, the X won't fold into a smaller form factor to enhance portability. Instead, it will go in the opposite direction, unfurling from a large phone into a full-fledged tablet. Here are the details.
During an unrelated product launch for the Galaxy A9 smartphone, Samsung's mobile president DJ Koh revealed that the company's 'folding phone' concept is actually a tablet. Users will be able to use the iPad-like device in full screen mode, then fold it up and put it in their pocket. In folded mode, it will provide the functionality of a smartphone.
The concept of an Android smartphone that you can fold up and put in your pocket is inching closer to reality. According to the latest leaked reports, Samsung's long-rumoured folding Galaxy X is set to make its debut in under a year. Here's what you need to know.
According to a previous leak, Samsung's current prototype boasts no fewer than three OLED screens. Two of these combine into an extra-large display, while the third appears on the phone's opposite side so you can continue to use it when folded.
Echoing comments he made last month, Koh told Cnet that the company was serious about delivering a 'meaningful' product rather than a gimmick destined to disappear a few months after launching.
"When we deliver a foldable phone, it has to be really meaningful to our customer. If the user experience is not up to my standard, I don't want to deliver those kind of products," Koh promised.
This suggests Samsung is attempting to create a new mainstream product category that will be manufactured in large quantities. (Prior analyst reports had predicted a "test run" of fewer than 300,000 units.)
"Possibly when we start selling the foldable phone, it may be a niche market, but definitely, it will expand," Koh said. "I'm positive that we do need a foldable phone."
Koh also confirmed that the device will be shipped globally which is great news for Aussie tech heads.
We still don't know when Samsung will lift the curtains on the 'Galaxy X' but it could be very soon. Previous reports had pointed to a January launch to coincide with the Consumer Electronics Show. However, it now seems more likely that we'll catch our first glimpse of the device at the Samsung Developer Conference on November 7 2018. (Yes, that's less than a month away.)
There are some very compelling use cases for a smartphone that folds into a tablet. Over the past few years, smartphone sizes have crept ever-upward to fulfil the demand for more immersive displays. It's got to the point where we're practically lugging around 8-inch tablets. This solution will give consumers the best of both worlds.
Imagine unfolding your phone on the train ride home to watch the latest episode of Better Call Saul, then reverting to phone mode to call your partner. No longer needing to juggle two devices and their chargers is a compelling proposition in itself.
Provided it actually delivers on its promise, this device could be the boost that the stagnant smartphone industry desperately needs. And it won't be alone - if reports are true, Huawei, LG and Lenovo are all working on flexible OLEDs of their own.
On the other hand, folding phones are by no means a sure thing and price will play a huge part in the success of these devices. Previous attempts to shake up the phone industry with detachable modules and tablet transformers have so far come to nought. Despite Koh's assurances, there's a very real chance this thing will slink into obscurity and early retirement.
Either way, this is definitely a space that tech enthusiasts need to keep a close eye on. In short: smartphones are about to get interesting again.