Head of Samsung mobile says ‘holy grail of smartphones’ should be available next year, although company still has several hurdles to overcome. Samsung is finally making its mythical flexible phone a reality.
Well, at least that certainly seems to be the case. After a few false starts, it appears that 2018 might actually be the year.
Samsung is aiming to launch a Note smartphone with a screen that folds next year, which would likely be the first available to feature such an innovation.
Koh Dong-jin, president of Samsung’s mobile business, said the company is setting its eyes on 2018 to release a smartphone using its bendable OLED screen technology, but he said there are several hurdles it has to overcome, leaving room to push back the release if those problems are not solved.
Koh said: “As the head of the business, I can say our current goal is next year. When we can overcome some problems for sure, we will launch the product.”
Recent stories, Samsung having the facilities in place to produce such technology en masse, and the very fact Samsung has committed to launching a device next year suggests it will happen. This, of course, should be a concern to rivals. A dramatic change in form-factor that breeds new, creative ideas feels like the type of shift that changes an industry.
What is the main draw outside of bringing back a flip phone design that’s about as relevant as Ja Rule? It’s what comes with it.
Let’s go back to when Samsung first launched the Note Edge and the additional functionality that came with it: the sidebar. A new way to interact with, and check, notifications. When the Edge was facedown, it was still possible to tell notifications were incoming because of the way the rounded edge illuminated the table’s surface.
A new way to read annoying notifications is small beer, I’ll grant you that. But that tiny design change illustrates -however feebly – how the outside can shape the inside. It would be interesting to see what creative liberties UX and UI designers would take with an entirely new device that’s designed around flexibility.
How about a device that reanimates Yota phone’s e-ink display on one side?
Hiding away the Kindle-like e-ink screen when folded into a ‘normal’ smartphone, but revealing it when it’s time to read Or, perhaps, a malleable device that can switch between a smartwatch, phone and tablet? There are endless possibilities. If it’s accurate that Samsung will release a flexible phone in early 2018, then Apple and Google’s current flagships are going to look very old, very quickly, up against whatever the Galaxy maker brings back from the future.
There’s also the issue of how Samsung’s main rivals can develop and manufacture similar devices to keep pace. Samsung has been working on this concept for years and has structured its manufacturing process accordingly, which will give it a significant head start.
It’ll be interesting to see if rivals can catch up fast enough, or, indeed, if they have the infrastructure in place to do so. In any case, it now looks like we’re on the cusp of the adrenaline shot the smartphone industry has desperately needed for some years. And, once again, it looks like Samsung is the one leading the way.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 may have a under-display optical fingerprint sensor
Samsung has used its bendable screen technology in a variety of smartphones and televisions to create curved displays displays for its Galaxy S and Galaxy Note devices and curved TVs. It also sold a large, 78in TV that could convert from curved to flat and back again by bending the screen at the edges.
For years the idea of a device that could be both a tablet and a smartphone, altering its form to serve the user best at different times, has been the holy grail of technology.
While the screen technology has been in place to enable it for several years, at least in prototype form, longevity of the displays and the inflexibility of other necessary components has held the concept back from the market.
Analysts are sceptical the technology can be perfected in a short space of time, but science fiction, including the recent HBO series Westworld, has shown how well the concept could work should the technology be ironed out. Video below..