The prediction that 2017 would be the year Samsung finally shows its foldable smartphone hand may have been only half true. While it’s still too early to discount it, sources are now saying that Samsung only plans to start production of a prototype in the later half of the year. And that’s just a prototype. That would mean the actual consumer models will only start production in early 2018. Presuming, of course, the prototypes are received well at all.
Samsung has been teasing, talking about, and patenting foldable smartphones for years now and yet not a single working prototype has been sighted. Almost comically, every year is said to be the year it will finally happen. What makes 2017 specials is because 2016 was the year the Galaxy Note line plummeted to a fiery death. The calls for a more innovative and, ironically, more experimental device has never been stronger.
Of course, hype doesn’t always translate into an actual profitable product. Samsung seems to be more cautious in approaching this new type of mobile device, in contrast to its zealous optimism a few years back. At MWC 2017, it was reported that Samsung did present its foldable smartphone concept but only to a very select number of people and under heavy NDAs. Not even its usual partners were invited and only major network providers were reportedly admitted to the exclusive presentation.
The prototype is intended not only to test the actual quality and performance of the foldable smartphone but also to gauge market reception. You can’t blame Samsung for treading lightly. Modular smartphones were all the rave but the LG G5 and Project Ara turned out to be duds. The foldable smartphone could end up the same way.
If reception is positive, production is expected to commence sometime in 2018. The sources’ crystal ball doesn’t see too far into that future, but it’s unlikely Samsung will launch it around the same time as the next Galaxy S model. Chances are, we will first catch a glimpse of the prototype at IFA 2017 later this year, which could then launch at the same event next year.