Adam Turek of Business Insider Polska spoke to DJ Koh, who is President of the mobile business at Samsung Electronics. The chat occurred right after the August 10 “Unpacked” event in New York that served as a launchpad for the latest Note 9 phablet. The reporter wanted to find out what’s happening with that long-awaited foldable Galaxy smartphone that’s in Samsung’s pipeline and to see what else the South Korean company might have in store.
According to the lengthy report, which was issued Wednesday evening, customers can indeed expect to see a foldable Galaxy smartphone “soon,” following years of rumors and Samsung’s official confirmation that such a product has actually been in development for years now.
Here’s what he said:
It’s nearing completion—we’re currently focused on the user experience.
When we show the folding phone to the world, we’re counting on the delight of customers and the astonishment of the competition, so we’ve still a few more refinements to make yet but it shouldn’t take much time.
Other manufacturers, including Apple, have suggested they’re looking at the possibility of similar foldable smartphones of their own. In September 2016, the United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple the US Patent number 20170336831, titled “Electronic Devices With Flexible Displays,” which describes a foldable smartphone.
A rumor last October suggested Apple’s device would use an LG-made flexible OLED panel.
Samsung’s foldable phone patent can be seen on Google Patents.
But what would be the use cases for a foldable Galaxy phone?
Smartphones will exist, but their form may change. Maybe they’ll be foldable? You don’t always need to look at the whole screen. Maybe you only need part of it. You may not have to unfold it to answer or make a call. However, if you want to browse the Internet, you’ll be able to unfold the phone to use the full display.
This bit on how they came up with the phablet concept:
About eight to nine years ago, it wasn’t just phones we carried in our pockets; we also carried notebooks. During a conversation with JK Shin—my boss at the time—it was suggested we should turn our smartphones into notebooks. When I managed to find a partner who could help to make this project a reality, we signed a contract with Japanese company Wacom. And after eight months of work, S Pen was created. So we’ve created a new subset of device—a phablet.
Before you dismiss Koh’s logic, keep in mind that people used to laugh off the original Note phablet and ridicule its size, but nowadays the vast majority of phones feature giant screens measuring between five and six inches diagonally.
A foldable Galaxy may have a total of three OLED screens.
Samsung Display has been showing off flexible OLED panels at CES for years now
Speaking of the Galaxy family, Koh said they have no intentions to divert away from the Galaxy brand name as certain rumors have suggested. “I am proud of the Galaxy name. I want to keep it, I like it,” the Samsung executive said.
“Building up brand power to that degree takes time, so we’re not considering changing the name,”he added. “That would need to be carefully thought over by many stakeholders.”
He went on to talk 5G technology in which Samsung is deeply invested (Koh said the first 5G phone from Samsung is due in six to nine months) and explained how it may improve IoT and usher in a new mobile revolution.
Thoughts on foldable phones?