Foldable phones are coming ―– it is only a matter of time –―and Samsung Electronics will be the first company in the world to put one on the market, possibly as soon as next year.
Analysts covering Samsung Electronics said on Tuesday the company planned to release a Galaxy-branded “foldable” device next year.
“Parts affiliates and first-tier subcontractors will begin supplying parts to Samsung Electronics’ handset division beginning in November, at the earliest, with the company assembling the phone aiming for a launch next year,” said Park Hyung-woo, an analyst at Shinhan Financial.
Kim Jang-yeol, head of research at Golden Bridge Investment, said the suggested retail price of the Samsung foldable phone, which the brokerage firm expects to be released in the first half of next year, could be about 2 million won (US$1,850) without subsidies from carriers.
In a recent earnings conference, Samsung confirmed that it was in the process of developing a smartphone that could be folded.
The local brokerage expects the foldable smartphone will have a 7.3-inch OLED screen.
“When the device is folded, the display size is estimated to be 4.5 inches,” Kim said.
“This new device is an interesting thing as it will have two inside panels and one outside panel with the two inside panels forming the 7.3-inch screen when the phone is unfolded,” Park said.
He added that Samsung Electronics planned to show the prototype to major US and European mobile carriers in separate private meetings during next year’s technology fair in Las Vegas.
Samsung Electronics spokesman Kim Choon-gon said the company was on track to develop a device featuring a “true foldable display”.
But he declined to comment on other features and specifications for device.
Samsung has filed several patents regarding the phone including one on the ability to fold without damaging any “internal components”.
Its latest patent, dubbed “artificial muscle” is for components moving in sync with the screen to protect them.
Samsung Display spokesman Kim Ho-jeong said the company had no official comments to make about the phone.
The “world’s first” title is the thing that Samsung wants to safeguard.
The South Korean company does not want to let its chief Chinese competitors get ahead of it as both Huawei and ZTE are said to be developing devices with foldable screens.
“In a world where Android backers are doing all they can to stand out from the crowd, the reason top-tier smartphone firms are jumping into the market is because foldable designs are different and allow customers to use them one-handed, while also providing a larger high-resolution display when multitasking is desired,” a Samsung engineer said.
This article was originally written by Kim Yoo-chul for The Korea Times.