The Galaxy X foldable phone still in flux at Samsung, tip insiders, due to costs and the Note 7 mishap

Samsung hesitant on foldable phones, still mulling the release format
In the past few days, the amount of rumors about Samsung's foldable phone undertaking, dubbed Project Valley, reached new heights. Analysts chimed in that the mass production of 6th-gen flexible OLED panels that are needed for such devices would start in the second half of next year at both Samsung and LG, with commercial devices slated for release before next year is out

There was even a patent filed by Samsung recently that depicts how its bendable phone will look like - an elongated slab with an intriguing Surface Book-style automatic hinge that can fold in the middle to become a flip phone of sorts. That patent was more detailed than anything we've seen so far from Samsung on the matter, so the rightful conclusion would be that Samsung is nearing the end of its development.

The claim that we won't see the device until "the latter half" of 2017, should have rung some alarm bells, as the Project Valley device was largely rumored to arrive in the spring, together with the more orthodox Galaxy S8 models. Now, however, a Korean publication reconfirms the eventual H2 launch for Samsung's foldable handset, but adds that the company is still hesitant whether it should release it at all, and in what format.

The thing is that "following Galaxy Note 7 issues, Samsung Electronics has become more cautious about unveiling new products - in terms of hardware," tip supply chain sources. There is more to it, though - due to the niche nature of the eventual bendable handset, and the achievable yield for its flexible cover glass sheets, the project seemingly can't go down on cost enough for the whole commercialization to be feasible. Samsung, it turns out, may just be "not sure whether consumers would open their wallets for the expensive foldable devices."

We shiver at that quote, trying to imagine the price tag on such a thing. That is why Samsung is allegedly toying around with the idea to release a foldable tablet of sorts first, which might be easier and more cost-efficient to make. This would explain yesterday's rumor that the new OLED conveyor belts will be primed to churn out flexible 7" panels, while the initial rumors were for a phone with a 5.8" display that folds into something much smaller.

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All in all, it seems that the Project Valley device is still in flux, and has been put on the backburner for the sake of outing the Galaxy S8 in an appealing and bug-free form. The technology for such a bendy gear, however, exists, said the suppliers, and there are only a few kinks to be ironed out creatively. Samsung's infamous SDI department, for instance, has bendable batteries in the research phase, but there is no need to use such juicers, as the foldable device can simply come with regular flat batteries in the upper and lower half. 

Kolon Industries, on the other hand, the company that will be making the transparent polyamide films that can serve as a cover glass over an OLED display with plastic substrate, can apparently start producing about a million of those in the second half of 2017. Thus, the elements for a Samsung foldable phone are in place, should the company decide to go ahead and out one before next year's end, which seems to be the general agreement of analysts now. 

We cross fingers that Samsung doesn't give up on the idea, and manages to balance the cost-to-value ratio well, as such a device would be innovative enough to be worth a price premium in the mind of early adopters. Still, with the rumored record screen-to-body ratios of next year's iPhone and Galaxy flagships, the need for such a foldable device might become more dubious in the eyes of Samsung's product planners, so anything can happen in the next year or so when it comes to Project Valley.

source: The Investor

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