Today, Samsung finally showed off its first foldable smartphone which has been unofficially dubbed the Samsung Galaxy X. Having seen the actual device in person we can now put all those rumours and alleged leaks to rest. Here are all the official facts that you need to know about.
The following information all comes directly from the mouths of Samsung Developer Conference presenters. In addition to what was revealed at the keynote, we also learned a bunch of additional facts at a developer Q&A - including the phone's resolution and battery life. While there's still a lot we don't know (including the device's name) the product is finally beginning to take shape. Without further ado, here's everything we learned today.
It's powered by Infinity Flex Display
This is the name of Samsung's new folding screen application. It uses a tough and flexible version of composite polymer that is reportedly thinner than any mobile screen in existence. The screen's folding mechanism has been quality-tested to endure hundreds of thousands of uses - much like the hinge on a laptop.
Infinity Flex Display is being billed as the biggest leap forward in mobile display technology in the last 10 years. It will allow users to turn their phone into a tablet by simply unfolding the screen. Infinity Flex Display will allow users to do things they couldn’t do with an ordinary smartphone - the larger, immersive display will be particularly well suited to media playback and multitasking.
It's 7.3 inches (unfolded)
When unfolded, Samsung's first folding smartphone will measure 7.3 inches. While that doesn't sound especially large for a tablet, it's worth noting that the form factor is significantly wider than a typical phone or tablet. This translates to more screen real estate to play with. It has a native resolution of 1536 x 2152 pixels and a screen density of 420 dpi.
The screen folds inward
When not in tablet mode, the phone's display folds inwards on itself like a book. This is a different approach to the recently released Royole Flexipai, which folds outward so both screens are accessible while folded. Samsung has a simple solution to this, however...
It comes with a third 5.4-inch screen
Samsung's folding phone has a third 5-4-inch OLED on its back which the company is calling a “cover screen”. This is what you'll be using when the tablet is folded and it works just like a regular Galaxy smartphone. The cover screen has a native resolution of 840 x 1960 pixels and a screen density of 420 dpi. When opened in tablet mode, the third display will turn off automatically.
It's powered by a new Android UI
One UI is a new user interface for Android that has been specifically built to assist with one-handed operation. It does this by automatically ordering relevant content on the bottom half of the screen using simplified, readily identifiable icons. The idea is to provide a continuous, seamless experience with icons appearing when you need them and disappearing when you don't.
In addition to reducing onscreen clutter and making navigation more intuitive, this will also be an essential feature for foldable phones. (It will also help to make regular, plus-size smartphones easier to operate.)
Samsung has gone to pains to ensure the user experience is not interrupted when swapping between modes. We were shown an example of a National Geographic website gallery in phone mode. When the phone was unfolded, the images instantly appeared on the tablet screen - there's no need to relaunch the app or wait for everything to reload.
As you'd expect, the phone Samsung showed off at SDC 2018 was much thicker than we've become accustomed to. It's basically two smartphones folded on top of each other. (Three, if you count the outer cover screen.) While specification weren't mentioned, it's clear that this product will be much, much thicker than any other phone on the market.
You can use three apps simultaneously
Multitasking is becoming increasingly important in the smartphone space, particularly when it comes to professional usage. Samsung confirmed that its folding phone will allow users to open and interact with three active apps simultaneously; all on the same screen. Samsung is calling this Multiactive Window - but the main thing you need to know is that launching and closing apps won't be necessary.
It will (allegedly) have good battery life
Despite powering three displays, Samsung reckons the new phone will have "at least" the same battery life as its existing phones. If true, that should translate to more than a day's worth of heavy usage between charges. We'll believe that when we see it.
Weird form factors are coming
The smartphone that Samsung unveiled at SDC was largely what we were expecting (based off a brace of credible leaks.) However, the company claimed that other form factors are being explored, including a bizarre flexible display that unrolls like toilet paper. Smartphones are about to get weird, and we love it.