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Huawei and Samsung race to build a foldable phone

Flexible screens mean futuristic tech may be in sight

This article originally appeared on ABACUS

We’ve heard companies promise foldable smartphones for years now, but new reports suggest Huawei and Samsung are inching closer to this tech dream.

Huawei said in an interview last week that it will release a foldable smartphone by 2019, according to GadgetMatch.
When it arrives, it will likely face competition from Samsung, which is reportedly close to finishing the long-awaited Galaxy X soon.

To be clear, there’s already been a foldable smartphone: ZTE’s Axon M, a two-screened device that folded out to create “one” screen (with a big dividing line in the middle).

Dual-screen smartphone: ZTE Axon M review

But what Huawei and Samsung are reportedly trying is a little different, using flexible OLED displays to have one continuous screen that folds up.

The benefit of flexible screens is obvious: You get larger, almost tablet-size screens packed into a much more portable format.

Details are still scarce, but patents, company advertising as well as leaks seem to hint that Samsung’s version could fold two-thirds of the way -- leaving part of the screen visible for things like notifications.
In 2014, Samsung released a video showing a concept for a foldable phone. (Picture: Samsung)
If Huawei was to beat Samsung to market with the phone, it would represent a coup -- at least in terms of bragging rights -- for the company in its bid to dethrone its Korean competitor.
While it seems we may be inching closer to foldable phones, it’s worth remembering how long we’ve been promised them: Samsung first teased the idea of a phone with a flexible screen all the way back in 2008.

But at least one industry watcher is hopeful: “Some vendors are indeed close to commercializing foldables soon,” IDC’s Bryan Ma told us.

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