This will be the next big thing … at some point.
The mobile industry has been tracking this rumored Samsung “Galaxy X” prototype phone for several months, gradually pushing back the supposed launch timeline for what’s supposed to be a successor to the general “Galaxy S” line. But as waves of details about the upcoming Galaxy S9 and S9+ come in, we’re still struggling for details on what this supposed Galaxy X with a foldable display will be. Reports with new details out of CES 2018 are at least giving us something to work with.
No, you didn’t miss an announcement — Samsung didn’t have anything public to say about the Galaxy X (if that is its real name) at CES. But as many companies do, Samsung took the opportunity of having so many high-up industry people together to show off what it’s working on to partners. According to The Investor, this year that included the Galaxy X. The device in question has a 7.3-inch display that can fold in the middle — multiple versions were shown, with different capabilities such as folding both inwards and outwards.
The inward-folding model (protecting the screen when closed) is reportedly the design with the most traction at the moment. The outward-folding one, on the other hand, includes “more advanced next-generation technology,” whatever that entails. The rest of the specs of the phone aren’t yet known, and considering how far out we are from a potential release — reportedly in 2019 — those can and will change between now and then.
Samsung has of course been putting curved panels in production phones since the Galaxy Note Edgethat eventually spawned into a phenomenon that has become a hallmark of Samsung’s high-end devices. The company has been experimenting with bendable OLED panels for years, going so far as to show them off publicly as technology demonstrations. But the question is whether it could make devices with displays that could be actively bent or folded thousands of times as a regular part of use. The display would have to be very robust, but then you also have the issue of what covers the display panel — typical Gorilla Glass wouldn’t do the trick.
LetsGoDigital has worked up renderings based on reports and patent filings that show the Galaxy X as a vertical-orientation phone, but with a hinge mechanism built into the sides of the phone. The phone would be rigid (and what looks to be extremely tall as well) when the display is extended and flat, but you could pull the top and bottom apart to expose the hinge to then bend while the screen follows suit.
Further renders show the phone while closed, which leaves a gap around the hinge portion not unlike a Microsoft Surface Book laptop. Large internal components would of course split between the top and bottom halves of the phone by the hinge.
Early rumors pointed to a Galaxy X with a hinge and two displays, but now we’re talking about just one panel.
Early rumors of the Galaxy X pointed to some sort of announcement or teaser as early as late 2017, which obviously didn’t happen. But those same rumors questioned whether the Galaxy X was truly a “bendable” phone with a single screen, or simply a hinged device with two distinct panels — like the ZTE Axon M, for example. It seems now that Samsung’s going to attempt a full-on single bendable display. Other rumors also had indicated Samsung had a more tablet-shaped device with this bendable display technology in place, and that may still be on the table in different future devices, but in terms of the “Galaxy X” it looks to be a traditional vertical phone orientation.
Our next best bet for when we’ll hear more about the Galaxy X will be MWC 2018, which kicks off at the end of February. That’s where Samsung has already said it will unveil the Galaxy S9 and S9+, and perhaps that will come along with a tease or some sort of information on what’s coming after that. Fingers crossed.