Futuristically distinct tablets and smartphones have captured our imagination for years. Whether it's the folding tablets found at Westworld or the many books that look like flip-flop boards in Microsoft's future vision videos, a phone that folds to a much larger device is a dream. Samsung is now trying to make these wild ideas a reality.
Galaxy manufacturer showed yesterday the new Infinity Flex Display, a display technology that will allow a tablet-size screen to fold into a device that approximates the size and shape of a smartphone. While we have seen flexible and flexible mobile devices, this is one of the first moments we've seen such a look on a phone that is rumored to be shipped in 2019. The Samsung device was "disguised" by what seems to be a rough case , and appears only under the faint light, but it is much more than just an art concept.
Samsung uses two separate screens to create its flip phone – one inside and a smaller screen on the outside – as opposed to Royole's FlexPai, which uses a single fold-out screen on the outside of the device. Samsung's internal display is 7.3 inches at a resolution of 1536 x 2152 (4.2: 3). It wraps in half to reveal a second screen on the front of the device. This second "screen", as Samsung calls it, functions as a 4.58-inch phone interface with 840 x 1960 (21: 9) resolution. It is also framed by much larger holes at the top and bottom than the internal screen. Although it looks very crowded, Samsung says the device hidden in disguise is actually "stunning".
This combination of screens gave us an early look at what to expect from folding phones in 2019 and beyond. Since glass is not flexible, Samsung has been forced to develop new materials to protect its new screen. The Infinity Flex screen uses a polymer that Samsung says is so "flexible and hard", meaning it can retain its power even when folded and unfolded "hundreds of thousands of times". Samsung has combined this with a new glue that plasticizes the various layers depictions together to allow them to bend. None of them are glass, so it could feel a bit different from what we used to have with modern phones, tablets and touchpads.
Just as smartphones started with plastic screens and graphics inputs, before showing to iPhone that glass capacity was the future, this folding era would include compromises ahead of technology advancement. The Samsung device, while it was a pocket, did not look very thin compared to modern smartphones. The cases when folded to be used as a phone are also huge compared to modern top flagship navigation flags and Samsung's fold-out screen makes the device very tall when it's closed.
"Folding phones are the 3D TV of the world of mobile," it was proclaimed Wall Street Journal tech columnist Christopher Mims on Twitter. Samsung, LG and many other TV makers slaughtered 3D TVs to consumers in various annual Consumer Electronics TV shows, but they never got caught. They were considered as a trick to selling more 1080p TVs without offering a great viewing experience. Not everyone agrees that folding phones will flop, though.
"Few people are discussing whether" folding or retractable mobile screens are the future of smartphones, the only question is when and by whom, "explains Patrick Moorhead, a Moor Insights analyst and former AMD executive. "The main advantage of a collapsible smartphone is that the user can have the advantage of a larger screen but can still put it in his pocket, coat or wallet."
In 2011, the giant 5.3-inch Galaxy Note screen met with pins in technology circles. Today we call phablets, telephones. Similarly, the curved appearance on the massive Galaxy Note Edge and the Galaxy Round was completely transformed into the Infinity screens found in Samsung's modern S-line flagship. If folding phones follow a similar journey, then Samsung's first device will not fully capture the potential of the design – instead, it will mark the beginning of an emerging battle over this intriguing screen technology.
"This is not just an idea," says Justin Denison, SVP of Samsung's mobile product marketing. "The breakthroughs we have achieved in projection materials have been combined with breakthroughs in construction, and we will be ready to launch mass production in the coming months."
The appearance of mass production means that device manufacturers will be able to choose this screen just as they already do with Samsung's OLED panels. According to information, Huawei plans to release a foldable handset next year. Lenovo and Xiaomi have also hacked their own prototypes, and LG is also working on its own versatile OLED screens and box-like TVs. The 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in January could be a first battleground for flip-flops, fueled by official Android support for folding screens.
Google support will be the key, as this type of new form factor will require close hardware and software connectivity. Samsung creates its own Multi Active Window software that will allow the foldable phone to display three applications at the same time. Multitasking is just one aspect of the software and Samsung and Google will have to optimize the entire Android UI and experience for these types of devices. Apple has traditionally been in hardware and software integration. In fact, there are rumors that a collapsible iPhone could appear within the next two years.
Folding phones are the obvious initial market for this display technology, but manufacturers will get a much more ambitious way as the screen technology matures. Samsung also promised future OLED projections with folding and stretching capabilities. Imagine folding or pulling a 55-inch TV into something that will fit into your bag or eventually replace the pen and paper with a folding tablet. It sounds incredible now, but we are only at the beginning of our flexible future.