Samsung Shows Off Foldable Phone/Tablet

Samsung Electronics – after much teasing – has finally unveiled its foldable smartphone to the world at the Samsung Developers Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. However, the electronics giant did not give media or developers a chance to inspect the device up close, but instead relied on Justin Denison, a senior VP of mobile product marketing to demo the prototype device. Video of the event shows a fairly chunky folded device, and can be folded out into a tablet mode, and then folded again in its thick phone mode in order to fit inside a pocket.

Chunky Phone

The brief glimpse of the phone comes after Samsung Displays achieved an important milestone in July when its unbreakable, bendable screen passed safety testing in the United States. Samsung’s mobile head, DJ Koh has previously said that when the device was unfolded, it would act as a tablet – complete with multi-tasking and a big screen. However, it could then be folded down into a more portable smartphone.

And during the unveiling, Reuters reported that Denison showed off the prototype with a screen he said measured 18.5cm (7.3in) diagonally. Developers have been urged to write applications for it, after Dave Burke, VP of engineering for Google’s Android software platform, revealed that Samsung would introduce a new Android-based device early next year. “We expect to see foldable products from several Android manufacturers,” he reportedly said.

There was no other details released about the device, but Samsung is hoping that the new smartphone will kick-start interest in Samsung’s portfolio after a series of new phones from its bitter rival, Apple.

Foldable vision

Samsung is currently facing a foldable phone challenge from the likes of China’s Huawei Technologies, which has previously said it is planning to launch a 5G smartphone with a foldable screen in mid-2019. But Samsung may a lead here, after it has been working on bendable phones for some years now. In 2015 leaks showed Samsung’s foldable ‘Project Valley’ smartphone.

That Samsung device was able to be folded in two to be carried around, with screens on both sides. The reality is that the innovation of flexible and bendable screens has been a goal for many researchers, for many years now. LG has previously revealed a concept “Active Bending” device featuring an edge-to-edge curved display, and has previously released the G Flex 2 smartphone, which sported a curved build designed to fit into a user’s hand.

Even Nokia back in 2011 unveiled a bendable concept phone, dubbed the Kinetic, which could be controlled by physical actions, such as squeezing the handset. Motorola in June filed a patent that seemed to solve one of the biggest problems with upcoming foldable phones, by overcoming a problem caused when a screen is repeatedly folded in half, which is highly likely to leave a visible crease in the screen. Microsoft meanwhile at Christmas filed a patent for a mobile device that boasted a dual-display and 360-degree rotation support.

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