Samsung has unveiled its foldable smartphone, now called the Galaxy F, following weeks of anticipation since it was initially announced last month. While other companies such as Apple, Huawei, LG, and Motorola have also filed patents on similar devices, and Lenovo and Xiaomi have also hinted at prototypes, Samsung has now set itself apart by debuting its actual model.
The company’s “Infinity Flex Display” folds up to fit inside a pocket, but expands to offer a 7.3-inch screen that functions more like a tablet. A feature Samsung calls “multi active window” will be able to run three apps at once. Its 4.6-inch cover display will function like a standard smartphone.
Google is working with Samsung to offer Android support for the phone.
The lights were dimmed and the device was obscured for the presentation. Samsung hasn’t said when it will unveil more information about the phone, but it is set to launch in March of next year, with mass production starting “in a matter of months” according to Samsung’s senior vice president of mobile product marketing, Justin Denison.
In addition to other patents and upcoming prototypes of foldable phones, LG is working toward flexible, bendable OLED screens for phones, as well as a TV that can be rolled up like a newspaper. Microsoft is working on a multi-screen device.
Companies are eager to advance the smartphone market beyond the incremental innovations and design changes. Compared to the early years of smartphones and mobile devices, progress has been slow and less eye-catching, and global sales have slowed down.
“Possibly when we start selling the foldable phone, it may be a niche market… but definitely, it will expand. I’m positive that we do need a foldable phone,” said D.J. Koh, President and CEO of Samsung’s IT and Mobile Communications Division.
“With the upgrade cycle getting longer, smartphones with curved displays have potential to become popular with early adopters. This will also have implications on supply chain and developers,” said Tarun Pathak, associate director of Counterpoint Research, speaking to Indo-Asian News Service.
Industry experts have suggested Samsung may showcase the device at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in February, a month ahead of its scheduled launch. They’ve also said it is likely to be sold for just under $1,800 when it first hits the market.