It looks like after years of wait, Samsung is finally poised to unveil its first smartphone with a foldable display early next year. A WSJ report provides a detailed insight into the handset and its specifications.
Internally codenamed “Winner”, the foldable smartphone features a 7-inch screen as previous rumors have claimed. However, the display can be folded into half “like a wallet” thereby making the device more portable. It also features a small display bar on the front and cameras in the back.
Samsung has been working on developing its foldable smartphone display technology for years now. It even demoed the panels quite a few years back but due to technological limitations, it never got around to using them in a smartphone.
Samsung does not plan on launching the foldable smartphone under its existing Galaxy S or Galaxy Note moniker. Instead, it will be positioned as the company’s third flagship device. Initially, the company plans on rolling out the smartphone on a limited scale to smaller markets where it sees potential. Depending on the response received, the company will then do a wider commercial rollout in the second half of 2019.
Samsung took a similar strategy with its curved AMOLED screens. It first debuted the panel with the Galaxy Note edge before it slowly made the technology a key part of its flagship Galaxy S and Note handsets.
The project has become one of Samsung’s key priorities in recent months which is why unlike the last few reports, there’s a greater possibility of Samsung sticking to its internal schedule and releasing the foldable smartphone in 2019. A key reason behind this is the lukewarm sales of the Galaxy S9 series whose sales is estimated to be 20 percent lower than the Galaxy S8 series.
The foldable smartphone is not going to be cheap as it is going to carry a price tag of $1,500 or even higher than that. While expensive, Samsung is hoping the unique design of the foldable smartphones entices customers into paying the premium.
The WSJ report also points to Samsung unveiling a $300 Bixby-powered speaker at its Galaxy Note 9 event on August 9. Internally codenamed “Lux”, the speaker will have lights at the top and have a bowl shape. Samsung plans on marketing the speaker as a high-end one with its unique features.
There are a lot of design challenges that a foldable smartphone throws. With a large screen, the device needs to have a large battery as well which will make it heavy. Then there’s also the risk of thermal throttling and how well the foldable design is executed in real-life. On paper, a foldable smartphone might sound impressive but its all about the execution. It is due to the same reason that Samsung has shied away from releasing its foldable smartphone to the public even in limited quantities. However, it looks like the slowdown in smartphone sales is forcing the company to change its strategy.