Foldable Smartphone Could Be Revealed This Year, Samsung Mobile Boss Hints


Time has come for foldable smartphones says Samsung mobile CEO, in clearest hint yet of future designs

The head of Samsung’s mobile division has delivered the clearest indication yet that bendable smartphones will be delivered in the years ahead.

In an interview with CNBC, DJ Koh reportedly said Samsung’s consumer research suggested there was demand for a foldable phone, and that details of a foldable smartphone would be released sometime this year.

It comes after Samsung Displays achieved an important milestone in July when its recently developed unbreakable, bendable screen passed safety testing in the United States.


Bendable phone

Samsung has been rumoured to be working on bendable phones for some years now. In 2015 leaks showed Samsung’s foldable ‘Project Valley’ smartphone.

That Samsung device is reportedly able to be folded in two to be carried around, with screens on both sides.

But now DJ Koh told CNBC that Samsung will unveil details of a foldable smartphone later this year.

Koh said that “it’s time to deliver” on a foldable device after consumer surveys carried out by Samsung showed that there is a market for that kind of handset.

Koh did not reveal how the folding screen could work but ran through the design thinking of the upcoming smartphone, and how Samsung is seeking to differentiate the experience from a tablet once it is unfolded.

“You can use most of the uses … on foldable status,” he said. “But when you need to browse or see something, then you may need to unfold it. But even unfolded, what kind of benefit does that give compared to the tablet? If the unfolded experience is the same as the tablet, why would they (consumers) buy it?,” Koh reportedly said at the IFA electronics show in Berlin last week.

“So every device, every feature, every innovation should have a meaningful message to our end customer,” he said. “So when the end customer uses it, (they think) ‘wow, this is the reason Samsung made it’.”

And it seems that Koh hinted that more details would be forthcoming at the Samsung Developer Conference in November in San Francisco. However it is worth noting he gave no indication of when a full launch would take place or when it might go on sale.

The mobile CEO reportedly admitted that while the development process is “complicated,” the company has “nearly concluded” it.

Long time coming

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 have 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.

That Kinetic prototype was not a touch screen but, instead, allowed the user to drive the controls by bending and twisting actions.

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.

But Microsoft has precious little creditability left in the smartphone sector following its Windows Phone debacle.

Quiz: What do you know about Android?