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Samsung Plans To Launch its First Foldable Smartphone in 2019

A foldable smartphone will soon reach near you

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Samsung, speaker
Samsung files new patent application for 3D displays.

D.J. Koh, President and CEO at the IT and Mobile Communications Division of Samsung Electronics, knows what boredom can eventually do to technology — especially to smartphones that are lately witnessing incremental enhancements amid sales slowing down globally.

Barring design changes and offering Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled hardware, smartphones are currently offering nothing out-of-the-box.

The charismatic Samsung executive now wants you to fold the smartphone in half and use it like a tablet.

While other players like Huawei, LG, Motorola and arch rival Apple have secured patents on foldable devices, Samsung has taken a definitive lead with a real one.

Setting the stage for the Next-Gen innovation war, Koh teased us in an interview with tech portal CNET last month: “Possibly when we start selling the foldable phone, it may be a niche market… but definitely, it will expand. I’m positive that we do need a foldable phone.”

The world finally saw a glimpse of the foldable phone during the Samsung Developer Conference 2018 in New York on November 7 when Justin Dennison, Senior Vice President of Mobile Marketing, took out a real foldable smartphone from his jacket.

Reports now say Samsung Electronics plans to launch its first foldable smartphone in March next year and the shipment volume will be at least one million.

Will Samsung’s next big innovation change the fortune of the smartphone industry in 2019?

Apple
While other players like Huawei, LG, Motorola and arch rival Apple have secured patents on foldable devices, Samsung has taken a definitive lead with a real one.

“Tab in your pocket is a great idea. The consumers’ reactions and real use cases will tell us whether this extreme device will succeed or not, but at the moment, it is a remarkable innovation and now very much in existence,” Jaipal Singh, Associate Research Manager, Client Devices, IDC India, told IANS.

Industry experts say Samsung may showcase the foldable smartphone at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in February, ahead of the official launch in the following month.

While the price of the foldable smartphone has not been decided, it is said that it may cost around $1,770 to begin with.

According to Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research, Samsung has set a high bar for smartphone vendors, especially at a time when innovation is perceived to have reached its peak.

“With the upgrade cycle getting longer, smartphones with curved displays have potential to become popular with early adopters. This will also have implications on supply chain and developers,” Pathak told IANS.

Positioning of components and creating content for developers is equally important in case of such devices.

“While the concept of foldable devices was always there, the Samsung announcement has put a lot of weight behind such a category that is ready for commercial deployment,” Pathak added.

Experts have various suggestions about the upcoming device — that it should not be bulky, should consume less battery and fit easily into the palm; but Samsung must have deliberated on such factors while developing the device.

Samsung
The charismatic Samsung executive now wants you to fold the smartphone in half and use it like a tablet.

“Multi-tasking is the future and this device fulfills that. The experience has to be seamless for the consumers. The durability is also important for heavy users,” said Singh.

The upcoming device will fold inward and sport a 7.4-inch screen when unfolded and have a 4.6-inch display like a regular smartphone when folded, said a report in Yonhap news agency.

According to Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CyberMedia Research (CMR), the Samsung foldable phone will mark the beginning of a long road of new innovation.

“Smartphones have not seen much disruptive innovations for a long time now — in form factor and display. Samsung has now achieved a technical breakthrough in display manufacturing,” Ram told IANS.

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A foldable smartphone will soon reach near you. Koh, who understands the global smartphone market inside-out, says the foldable phone will not be a “gimmick product that will disappear after six to nine months after it’s delivered”.

Whether it will perfectly slip into your pocket and fit into your budget is yet to be seen, but foldable displays have rekindled hope in a market that reached its peak in 2018 and is waiting for the next big thing. (IANS)

Next Story

Samsung Galaxy Fold Launch Postponed in China: Report

The Galaxy Fold is expected to be priced around Rs 1,40,790 in India

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samsung foldable phone
FILE - The Samsung Galaxy Fold phone is shown on a screen at Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s Unpacked event in San Francisco, Feb. 20, 2019. Samsung says it will look into some reports of flickering or cracking screens. VOA

Samsung has postponed the Galaxy Fold’s launch events in Hong Kong and Shanghai, which were originally scheduled for April 23 and 24, days after some units of the $2,000 foldable phone encountered major display issues.

“The firm is blaming the decision on a last minute issue with the venue, according to someone claiming to be familiar with the matter.

“But that seems a little too convenient seeing as the handset has been under heavy fire all week, after a number of units broke after being in the hands of reviewers for less than a day,” the SamMobile reported late on Sunday.

Tech reviewers from renowned media brands like The Verge and the CNBC noted issues like screen flickering, display distortion and unexplainable bulges bugging the industry-first device, reports said last week.

The handset maker obviously doesn’t want to associate these delays with the broken review units, but given the timing, chances are Samsung wants to buy more time to address these issues before the next wave of shipments, according to the Engadget.

Sub-titling the review “Yikes”, The Verge said that the flaws were “distressing to be discovered just two days after receiving the review unit”.

Smartphone, tablet folded phone
DJ Koh, president and CEO of IT and Mobile Communications, holds up the new Samsung Galaxy Fold smartphone during an event, Feb. 20, 2019, in San Francisco. VOA

Defending its devices just days before its roll-out, a Samsung spokesperson assured that the firm would “thoroughly inspect” the units.

The super-expensive foldable smartphone was launched during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February followed by Huawei launching its own foldable phone, the Mate X.

According to market research firm Gartner, foldable phones would make up 5 per cent of high-end phones sales by 2023 with around 30 million units.

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The phone comes with the world’s first 7.3-inch Infinity Flex Display, which folds into a compact device with a cover display that is capable of opening up to three active apps simultaneously on the main display.

The Galaxy Fold is expected to be priced around Rs 1,40,790 in India. (IANS)