Remember flip phones – phones you could fold in half? Remember how much more convenient the folding phone was to stick in your pocket? Then came smart phones, which signaled a death knell for phones that you could fold and put in your pocket. Until now.
Samsung actually announced that they were working on a foldable phone more than two years ago, and even produced a concept video at the time.
Samsung Folding Phone – Concept Video
Of course, making a screen that can be folded – not hinged or jointed, but actually folded – is no easy trick. “It is complex technology to manufacture reliably and this has implications on the eventual cost of devices using such screens,” CCS Insights’ Chief Researcher Ben Wood told the the International Business Times.
Samsung is developing the foldable screen by using OLED screen technology. OLED stands for ‘organic light-emitting diode’, and Samsung has been a pioneer of this technology for years.
In addition to the technical challenges inherent in developing a foldable smartphone and bringing it to market, is the issue of cost. As smartphone prices have dipped – or at least become normalized – will consumers jump on the next new thing even if it costs $100 or $200 more?
Still, according to inside sources, Samsung is on track to announce a folding phone by the end of this year or the beginning of 2017. During a conference call earlier this year, Samsung Display Director Lee Chang-hoon is quoted as saying “Development of Foldable OLED is taking place according to our plan. We are planning on mass-production and release of this product by discussing with our partners.”
Which would you be more likely to buy: a phone that folds such that it is smaller than the average smartphone when folded up, or a phone that when folded is the size of the average smartphone, but which when unfolded is double the size of an average smartphone?
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