Just when you thought that Samsung is really close to launching a foldable smartphone next year, it seems that it’s still not a sure deal. Or if it does come, it will be even more limited than the eccentric and curved Galaxy Round. According to reports, the embattled Korean OEM is indeed already capable of producing a foldable smartphone by late 2017, albeit in small quantities. Uncharacteristic of Samsung, however, is the report that the company is actually exercising caution, having second thoughts about the feasibility of such a product.
It is admittedly ironic, considering how Samsung has basically spearheaded and inspired that dream of a foldable mobile device in recent years. That started with flexible displays, which already exist now, though with limitations. Much of the pieces are in place, but Samsung is reportedly doubting whether there is really a strong market demand for such a device.
And in case you were thinking that Samsung’s hesitation is born out of the Galaxy Note 7 crisis, you’d only be half correct. Batteries are not an issue in this case, or at least not experimental ones. For a foldable smartphone or tablet, a flat, solid battery can still be used in parts where the device doesn’t fold. In short, there’s no need yet for flexible, bendable batteries, which only exist in labs for now.
That said, Samsung is indeed being cautious about introducing anything that will be seen as experimental. Considering the Galaxy Note 7 wasn’t exactly “experimental” but still ended up a complete disaster, Samsung will be struggling with image and public perception.
If, however, Samsung determines that the market is indeed ripe for foldable devices, its first product might actually be a foldable tablet instead of a smartphone. In addition, it would be one that folds with the display facing outwards, contrary to what you’d expect. The reasoning for this, says the anonymous source, is that display curve would have a bigger radius, compared to if the tablet was folded more like a book. Despite having flexible displays, completely and flatly folded screens remain an issue, which probably explains the odd design of the “Galaxy X” phone revealed in a recent patent.
SOURCE: Korea Herald