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 apparently to be a successor to the general "Galaxy S" line. But even so, we're still struggling for details on what this supposed Galaxy X with a foldable display will be. Here's the latest information.
The latest Galaxy X news
September 4, 2018 —Samsung confirms a folding phone will be launched this year
While there's been no doubt that Samsung's working on a foldable smartphone, one detail we haven't had a definite answer on is when the thing will be released. That's now changing, however, as the company's CEO of its mobile division — DJ Kohn — confirmed to CNBC that a folding phone will launch at some point this year.
Koh told CNBC that "it's time to deliver" and that Samsung has "nearly concluded" its development of the phone. We're still uncertain how exactly the foldable nature will be implemented, but during IFA in Berlin, Kohn went on record saying:
You can use most of the uses ... on foldable status. But when you need to browse or see something, then you may need to unfold it. But even unfolded, what kind of benefit does that give compared to the tablet? If the unfolded experience is the same as the tablet, why would they (consumers) buy it? So every device, every feature, every innovation should have a meaningful message to our end customer. So when the end customer uses it, they think 'wow, this is the reason Samsung made it'.
July 18, 2018 — Galaxy X reported to fold in the shape of a wallet, might cost over $1,500
A report from The Wall Street Journal surfaced this morning outlining a few key details we can expect from the Galaxy X. When describing the design of the phone, part of the report notes that:
The screen can be folded in half, like a wallet, these people said. When folded, the exterior of the phone boasts a small display bar on the front and cameras in the back, they added.
Furthermore, it's said that the Galaxy X has a screen that measures in at 7-inches diagonally.
As for pricing and availability, WSJ notes that the Galaxy X has "taken on a greater sense of urgency in recent months" and that its price tag could reach well beyond $1,500. The phone's expected to be released at some point in early 2019.
All the big details
Some background on Galaxy X rumors
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 2018. 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 as late as early 2019 — those can and will change between now and then.
How will a 'foldable' phone actually work?
Samsung has of course been putting curved panels in production phones since the Galaxy Note Edge that 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.
When it will be announced
During IFA 2018 over in Berlin, Samsung's mobile division CEO — DJ Koh — confirmed that a foldable smartphone will be launched before the year is over.
Koh teased that we may learn more information during the Samsung Developer Conference in November, but it's still unclear when this year the phone will actually go up for purchase.
Update August 2018: Updated with a new statement from Samsung about the Galaxy X's launch.