Samsung's foldable phone may not be what you're hoping for, here's what it could look like

Samsung's foldable phone may not be what you're hoping for, here's what it could look like
It's still a foldable phone, just not flexible

Samsung's elusive foldable phone has been in the news for so long, that it's become a bit of a joke at this point. The company has been teasing the device for close to a decade now, giving us short glimpses at prototypes at least once a year at trade shows. The first Samsung foldable display prototypes were shown to the public at CES 2011, and yet, it is only now that the company finally deems the tech ready to deliver a foldable device.

We know that the Galaxy Fold—or whatever it ends up being called—is coming out soon. Samsung recently published an article that explains why, according to the company at least, foldable smartphones are the way to go, hinting that we may see the device as early as the Galaxy S10 'Unpacked' event at the end of February.

But there's a potential problem...

The Galaxy Fold may not be what we were all hoping for




This is what the Samsung Galaxy Fold could actually look like. It still folds, but it doesn't have a flexible display.

Over the years, Samsung has teased us with a foldable device with a, well, flexible display. Even though the prototypes have had obvious quality problems, such as dead pixels and other display issues, which were no doubt caused by the flexible nature of the panels, the last time we saw one of the prototypes, it looked like it was built better. Even under the dim light—which Samsung cleverly used to obfuscate many details about the device—it effortlessly flipped open and closed with ease. No display issues to speak of.

We thought that we were finally going to get this particular phone, but unfortunately, this may not be the case. We know that this is the way to go and Samsung knows as much, but it seems as though the tech is not ready for prime time just yet. Maybe in 2020, or 2021, a full decade after we saw Samsung's flexible display prototypes for the first time. What we'll be getting this year, instead, could be a phone similar to the ZTE Axon M – that is, a dual-screen phone with a clam shell design.

According to a Samsung patent, uncovered by Let's Go Digital, the company could release a phone with two separate screens that sort of come together, but are nonetheless divided by a small gap. The flexible display could be a year or two away, still.

Flexible displays may still be years away



This is the foldable phone of the future, but it may still be years away

"We expect to see a sea change in the smartphone form factor in the coming years. From rollable and stretchable devices to the devices that can fold in multiple ways are no longer beyond the realms of reality. Samsung is ready to usher in this future and create meaningful experiences for consumers that help them do more of what they love," says Senior Vice President and Head of the Visual R&D Team at Samsung's mobile division Hark-sang Kim.

All said and done, however, it seems like dual-screen smartphones could be a sort of a stopgap on the way to the real flexible phone (much like the notch and punch-hole displays are a stopgap on the way to the all-screen phone).


Official teaser for Samsung's upcoming foldable phone. Notice the deliberate seam in the text. The same that we saw in the Galaxy S10 'Unpacked' teaser

Among the biggest hurdles of designing a foldable phone is, well, the way it folds. Old prototypes, even though briefly showcased, were obviously too rigid and unnatural to interact with. The displays were also less than perfect, with prototypes from both Samsung and other companies exhibiting dead pixels and other problems with their screens, due to the panel having to bend in extreme fashions to facilitate for the design.

But that's only part of the struggle. The placements of the battery, cooling system, and camera also had to be rethought for the flexible form factor. Then there's the user interface and user experience, which vary more than you'd imagine when you're dealing with a device that can drastically change the size of its active screen area on the fly.

The foldable form factor would first have to prove itself a viable replacement to what we currently have. Samsung says the phone can withstand "hundreds of thousands of folds," but as with any emerging technology, the first generation is often a testing grounds for new ideas and it is very important how the stage is handled. This can make or break a new format, as we all know.

Disclaimer: The concept images featured in this material are based on official patents and preliminary information about the handset.

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38 Comments

1. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2248; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

Lol! That’s all I have to say...

2. odachek

Posts: 127; Member since: Sep 01, 2012

Wut!? Xiaomi wins then.

5. midan

Posts: 3003; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

How?!?!

3. osterrich21

Posts: 186; Member since: Apr 14, 2017

For me it's OK. More resistant than a flex.The results is the same.

4. midan

Posts: 3003; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

Oh well, This can't be true..

6. Cat97

Posts: 1933; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

So "according to a Samsung patent" is the only evidence for this article ? I mean, how many patents come and go ? I can't see anything more than a click bait article here. Edit: it seems that the author may be right after all, looking at this official video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KIKaS2221I

12. Milen_Y

Posts: 115; Member since: Jun 09, 2016

The same "gap" or "seam", or whatever you want to call it, was also in the Galaxy S10 'Unpacked' event teaser, dividing the image in two.

24. Yousefjaber206

Posts: 115; Member since: Jan 09, 2018

Those are two GS10 beside each other

36. sissy246

Posts: 7124; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Agree It is two s10's side by side

30. miketer

Posts: 527; Member since: Apr 02, 2015

If it's true, then that's a very cheap way to garner interest, especially for the size of a company like Samsung, especially switching off the lights and showing that prototype. Dirty cheap way.

31. Cat97

Posts: 1933; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

Actually, if true, this will surely backfire on Samsung.

7. WingMan

Posts: 263; Member since: Mar 28, 2008

Axon M was here first :D

13. osterrich21

Posts: 186; Member since: Apr 14, 2017

The Chinese always ahead...

40. rsiders

Posts: 1975; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

And watch them justify Samsung by saying how better implemented they did it.

8. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

Makes sense! I was already wondering why there was a gap in their teaser image: https://cdn.cultofmac.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/B91DC8F6-4279-4F0B-9EA7-CC31B54A40B9-780x529.jpeg

9. Poptart2828

Posts: 426; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

Some of the biggest companies play it safe. Let the Chinese do it right and in a few years, maybe the west can join.

14. looneyhouston

Posts: 40; Member since: Apr 10, 2014

And they want how much for two s10's joined together by brackets??

15. Nionx

Posts: 207; Member since: Oct 30, 2017

I like it. An actual folding display would be nice and all but this design here is real pretty. I wouldn't be mad if this was the result. Just add an s-pen and drop the price.

16. _deeuk

Posts: 48; Member since: Nov 06, 2018

So fake

39. WingMan

Posts: 263; Member since: Mar 28, 2008

Can't you read man. It is at the bottom of the article " Disclaimer: The concept images featured in this material are based on official patents and preliminary information about the handset."

17. irossdrummer

Posts: 369; Member since: Jan 17, 2015

That would be ugly af having a seam in the middle in tablet mode.... just gonna be an expensive version of the ZTE Axon M

18. pimpin83z

Posts: 591; Member since: Feb 08, 2019

We'll see in a week. Waiting for the Note 10 anyway.

19. Peaceboy

Posts: 640; Member since: Oct 11, 2018

Just wait till Apple release a foldable phone. Design and function are best.

20. foldablephone

Posts: 58; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

Why did my comment get deleted?

21. foldablephone

Posts: 58; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

Wow it seems any critism of Editorial on here is immediately deleted. That’s childish behavior. Fine, I’ll never comment or visit here again. Deleted from bookmark.

22. jibraihimi

Posts: 815; Member since: Nov 29, 2011

Kyocera echo, and Zte axon M might be laughing out loud on seeing this....

23. Tipus

Posts: 894; Member since: Sep 30, 2016

Same crappy speculations from PA as "galaxy s10 won't include 3.5mm jack" :)))

25. skips

Posts: 482; Member since: Oct 04, 2015

so an Axon M with an extra screen..... wow. thats kinda f**ked, especially taking into account all the hype with the prototype displayed recently....

26. Sealblaighter

Posts: 429; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

If this is indeed true, it is really sad they would ask 1500+ $ for it!!!!

32. Vyshak75

Posts: 79; Member since: Mar 03, 2016

I don't think it's true at all... If that was the case, I don't think Samsung had to take this many years to unveil this kind of phone as its relatively easy to build compare to a flexible phone.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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