Samsung Reportedly Plans to Debut Foldable Phone in 2019

Samsung Electronics plans to debut a smartphone, codenamed “Winner,” with a foldable screen early next year, according to sources. The screen measures about 7 inches diagonally and can be folded in half, similar to a wallet. In the folded position, the exterior has cameras on one side and a small display bar on the other. Unfolded, the phone will be almost entirely screen. Samsung’s phone could help spark a comeback in the smartphone market, where sales have dipped 0.3 percent in 2017, the first in the industry’s history, notes IDC.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, “the foldable-screen phone would create an entirely new product category and become Samsung’s third flagship device, alongside its primary Galaxy S and large-size Galaxy Note lineups.” The rollout would first target mobile gamers and, “if successful,” would have a “broader commercial debut in the second half of 2019.”

Samsung_Logo

Sources said the company doesn’t expect it to be a big commercial hit initially but it “wants to be the first company” to introduce the feature. Samsung has seen “falloff in premium-phone demand this year, especially for the company’s latest flagship device, the Galaxy S9,” whose “sales drop-off from the prior year’s model could be 20 percent or more.” As a result, Samsung predicted a “lower-than-expected operating profit for the second quarter, largely driven by the decline in Galaxy S9 sales.”

Samsung, which previously worked on a foldable-screen phone codenamed “Valley,” has a leg-up on potential competitors, because the OLED display required is made by a company division, and “Samsung currently controls nearly all of the smartphone OLED market.” The “Winner” phone would, however, require a bigger battery, which “has stirred concerns inside the company over potential overheating,” as well as “more powerful components,” resulting in a price tag of over $1,500.

Digital Trends reports that a Samsung patent for a “Foldable Electronic Device Including Hidden Display and Information Display Method Thereof” is identical to that described by WSJ. Shinhan Financial analyst Park Hyung-woo “believes the Galaxy X will have two inside panels forming the 7.3-inch screen when the phone is unfolded, along with one outside panel to use when it’s folded.”

South Korean news site The Bell said, “the Galaxy X will feature three 3.5-inch OLED panels: two that form a massive 7-inch screen when unfolded, and a single one on the rear of the device that allows for the phone to be used when folded.” A September 2016 patent from Samsung Display shows a “clamshell-like device that resembles a makeup compact, folding out into a traditional rectangular smartphone shape.”

Golden Bridge Investment head of research Kim Jang-yeol said the new phone “could reportedly cost as much as two million won [$1,850] at release.” It’s also rumored that Samsung will show the Galaxy X at the Mobile World Congress in February 2019 or possibly at CES 2019. Samsung “apparently” has ordered enough components to produce 2,000 to 3,000 Galaxy X phones.

Related:
Samsung’s Foldable Phone Might Not Be Called the Galaxy X, Ubergizmo, 7/23/18
If This Is Samsung’s $1,500 Foldable Phone, No One’s Going to Buy It, VentureBeat, 7/19/18