Foldable phones are the latest technology we’ve seen in phones, and Samsung looks about ready to launch the most anticipated version later this year. The Samsung Galaxy X has been seven years in the making, and this phone is going to be BIG. Leaks confirm that the phone will have a foldable 4K display, allowing the device to maintain high resolution even when it is folded.
What is a Foldable Phone?
It’s pretty much just what it sounds like; a smartphone that can either fold inwards or outwards revealing a tablet-sized device when fully open. This is possible thanks to the development of a bendable OLED panel. Samsung has demonstrated bendable displays and devices at a number of industry events, and they already have several patents for this type of technology.
What We’ve Seen So Far
Samsung reportedly demonstrated some foldable smartphones at Mobile World Congress in February of 2017, to show industry partners how the device might work. Accounts claim that the designs were well-received and the company went ahead with its next planned design phase. This phase aimed to test the foldable phone within the company and with others to assess the viability of offering an affordable foldable device.
What are the Advantages of Foldable Phones?
This technology brings several benefits with it. For starters, foldable phones are much tougher than their rigid counterparts. Phones with a bendable touch screen are manufactured specifically to withstand great pressure. They are lighter, and they are designed to curve when they’re in your pocket. Even when you drop them, the screen doesn’t shatter. When technology advances to the point where companies can manufacture printable circuit boards, then they will be able to create fully flexible devices. Another advantage of a foldable phone is the price, which will be highly attractive to many consumers. Because the foldable technology is made of plastic, it is printable and therefore cheaper to manufacture.
The Challenges of Making a Foldable Smartphone
According to experts, one of the major issues of developing a fully flexible phone is that it must either incorporate completely flexible components or have some rigid parts. Another important consideration is the durability of the phone. For a foldable display screen to withstand the daily wear and tear of regular use, it must be made from highly durable materials, such as the hybrid polymer-glass substrate used by Samsung. The device must also have a similarly resilient outer layer to protect the screen.
The touch layer further complicated the design because it too must be able to withstand folding. Currently, most touch screens incorporate the transparent conductive material indium tin oxide. The problem is, it’s not flexible. So a foldable display requires an upgrade to a transparent conductive material that can bend. Perhaps the future lies with graphene or nanowires.
Samsung’s Patents for Foldable Phones
Over the past few years, several of Samsung’s foldable phone patents have revealed how the company is designing the phone. Recently released patents show that the South Korean company has been experimenting with an array of multi-windowed phones to utilize a widescreen.
One of the patented designs shows a vertical array of multi-windows. The upper window is used for a video feed for video calls, while the lower can showcase icons offering a number of different functions.
Another patent illustrates a different multi-window user interface for the device’s rear camera. In this design, the camera interface is divided into two halves similar to the video phone, but in this instance, the phone is used in a horizontal position. The image captured by the rear camera is displayed on the right screen, while the left screen allows the user to adjust the picture’s quality settings.
Further Samsung patents suggest that they may develop a foldable smartphone which has different aspect ratios than those used in traditional smartphones. According to the patent, to offset this, the company may develop specially-designed software to ensure that content fits across both screens without becoming distorted.
What the Rumors Say about the Galaxy X
Initial rumors claimed that the Galaxy X would be a 5-in phone with the capability to fold out into an 8-inch tablet. However, these rumors have been replaced with speculation that the phone will open out into a 7-inch tablet. It may even be the case that two Samsung foldable phones will be released simultaneously, offering different options.
Rumors say that the screen resolution will be 4K (3840 X 2160 pixels), to keep the high res when it’s folded. It may also feature a rear dual camera and one of the most cutting-edge Qualcomm Snapdragon processors. Although the Galaxy X will probably have a microSD card slot, the battery will not be removable.
Early rumors surrounding the Galaxy X indicated that the phone might be a bendable phone with a single screen or a hinged device comprised of two separate panels. The current consensus is that the phone will have a single, bendable display with traditional vertical orientation.
Samsung Galaxy X Debut
According to reports, Samsung has been working on a foldable smartphone for a number of years, and there has been serious hype about it from eager consumers. During this time, many rumors have circulated about when the handset would reach consumers. Some reports said that the phone would debut in 2017, but that time has since passed. The Samsung Galaxy X reveal is anticipated to probably take place sometime during the second half of 2018. However, you may not be able to purchase one until well into 2019.
Apple Gets Onboard
Samsung may not be the only company with the intention of developing a foldable phone. It appears that Apple is also set on creating a bendable phone. Apparently, the company has filed a U.S. patent application for a device with a flexible area that allows it to be folded. Further details note that the foldable areas of the device may enable it to open as a book or to be propped up on the lower half of the screen. As this is just in the patent application stage, it’s possible that Apple may discard the idea before they ever actually make the phone.