Samsung didn’t announce a new folding phone last night but it did tease us with a brief look at a prototype device. But there’s no confirmed name yet and no look at the hardware Samsung will eventually release.
Samsung was even using a strong backlight to keep the phone hidden from view. We do know it’s a bit of a chunky monkey, but more than that we can only see a few details about how it looks.
We have some rough ideas about what this phone will offer and when it will arrive though. There are also more questions to answer in the coming months as Samsung gets ready to launch some sort of folding device.
The end game, of course, is to make devices as thin (or thinner) than current phones than can be folded in half when not being used. We may be a few years away from that though, so view this as a concept as much as anything.
How much will it cost?
It’s not clear, but it won’t be cheap.
The cost of setting up a new manufacturing line is expensive and especially on low-yield products this would mean a high retail price.
This was true when Samsung first launched phones with curved displays like the Note Edge and S6 Edge.
When will it be available?
Next year some time. We may know more after January’s Consumer Electronics Show where Samsung could demonstrate the final hardware design.
The prototype might be used as a developer device to help app creators build special interfaces that take advantage of the large screen. These may be sold, or Samsung might give them to devs to encourage them to create services.
How good will the screen be?
The 7.3-inch screen should have a resolution of around 1536 x 2152. That’s a decent resolution but how it’s used will be key.
Having a wider display opens up the possibility to either have two things open at once, side-by-side. Or using the wider display to make the most of apps where you want to read or see more on screen.
For web browsing and photo viewing a bigger screen should be absolutely fantastic.
How is it different to a normal phone?
Samsung is gearing up for a change to how it designs its Android OS. A more simple user interface was teased yesterday and it’s likely the new folding Galaxy X (or F) will use this.
Because a normal phone is much taller than wide we’re used to apps fitting into that form factor. On the bendable phone there’s more space, but how apps use that will be make or break for the device.
Will it, for example, support the S-pen from the Note range? If so, that could make this a very nifty too for business users or creative people.
What about that thickness?
Well, from the preview at the developer conference you couldn’t exactly describe the folding phone as svelte. It was thick in tablet mode and even thicker when folded up.
But there’s a lot we don’t know here. Samsung says it’s putting the device into mass manufacture soon, but it doesn’t say if the product shown on stage will be the one it makes.
This may simply have been a tech demo, with a more desirable and consumer friendly phone in the works.
Inevitably a hinge and folding screens will add some depth to the device. However for people to actually want to own one it’s going to need to look as pretty as Samsung’s other phones.
We’ll have to wait and see on this one.
What about Google and Android?
Google seems to be onboard with foldable phones. Android is getting updates to support any devices that appear with this kind of functionality.
There’s no surprise there though, because Samsung is one of (if not the) biggest partner Google has in Android.
We’re also expecting a folding phone from Huawei too, arriving at some point next year.
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