Samsung is tipped to be creating a phone with a foldable screen, and it could be much closer to completion than we expected. According to Bloomberg, the company plans to announce a foldable phone under its Note brand in 2018. Could this be the Galaxy Note X, a fierce competitor to the just-announced iPhone X?
If you’re not quite sure what we mean by a foldable phone (and why would you be?), check out the concept video from TechConfigurations at the top of this story. We’ll also explain in more detail below.
What is a foldable phone?
A foldable phone is exactly as it sounds, one that either folds inward (like a clamshell phone) or outward and reveals a tablet-like device when stretched out. This is possible with the use of a bendable (rather than flexible, as seen in the Galaxy S7 edge) OLED panel.
Samsung, Lenovo and LG have each showed off bendable displays and devices at various industry events, and have registered many patents for the technology. Previously called Project Valley, Samsung’s technology has become known as the Samsung Galaxy X, which may or may not be its eventual name upon release.
Samsung originally worked on fold-in phones, which close up like a wallet, but having completed its work there it has moved on to fold-out phones. These should be more convenient for the user, who wouldn’t need to unfold the phone every time they wanted to use it.
The Samsung Galaxy X was originally rumoured to be a 5in phone that could fold out into an 8in tablet, but it’s now suspected to fold out into a 7in tablet. It’s indeed possible that there will actually be two Samsung foldable phones released.
According to rumours the screen resolution is expected to be 4K (3840×2160 pixels), ensuring that it remains high-res when folded. The Galaxy X could also feature a dual-camera at the rear, and one of the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon processors – most likely now the Snapdragon 835. There should be a microSD card slot, but the battery will not be removable.
A patent application filed by Samsung in late 2016 shows some renders of what the eventual Galaxy X may look like (via Sammobile):
When is the Samsung Galaxy X release date?
Although Samsung’s foldable technology is said to be ready, a source close to the matter told the Korea Herald that the device has not been unveiled because of marketability and profitability issues. Plans have also been held up by the political scandal involving president Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil.
However, at the time Samsung was said to be hopeful that its foldable phone will be unveiled in the third quarter of 2017, and the company will ship more than 100,000 units.
This ties in with multiple reports from elsewhere, including ETNews, which suggests there will be a working prototype ready to show off in Q3 2017, and Chinese leaker mmddj_chin, who says the Galaxy X will go on sale in Q3 2017, ahead of the Note 8 in Q4.
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We now know that this hasn’t happened, and Bloomberg is reporting that a foldable smartphone will debut under the Note brand in 2018.
It reports how Koh Dong-jin, president of mobile business at Samsung Electronics, said: “As the head of the business, I can say our current goal is next year. When we can overcome some problems for sure, we will launch the product.”
A device with the model name SM-G888N0 (previously rumoured to be the Galaxy X) has recently passed through Bluetooth SIG, the certification body that regulates Bluetooth device standards. The same model has also been certified for Wi-Fi by the Wi-Fi Alliance.
Yet another report claims the phone might go into small-scale production in Q4 2017, ahead of an ‘H2 2018 “clam-type” mass production blastoff’.
However, Samsung Display Engineer Kim Tae-woong claims the techology is not expected to mature until 2019.
A year ago Sammobile reported that Project Valley would not be available globally at launch, but that the UK and Ireland, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Nordic countries, France and Poland were on the list.