Huawei might beat Samsung to the punch with the first retail folding smartphone. While nothing has been launched yet, it's being reported that Huawei is very close to rolling out a foldable handset with a flexible light emitting organic diode (OLED) display in limited quantities. It could be less than 20,000 units, but being first would be a big win for Huawei.
"Huawei's planned volume could be limited to some 20,000 to 30,000 units, or even less, for a small group of first-wave adopters," a person familiar with Huawei's plan told Nikkei Asian Review. "The effort is mainly to demonstrate its technology capability and to attract the industry's attention and media coverage."
Sources told the media outlet that the display is manufactured by BOE Technology Group. It's not clear how much the handset would cost and, related to that, what kind of premium a flexible display would place on a premium phone. It also remains to be seen how the display actually functions.
While BOE might be an unfamiliar name to many people in the US, it is the world's top large panel maker for TV screens. More recently, BOE has focused on OLED panels, a category that is ruled by Samsung. One advantage of OLED is that they can be shaped into curved designs, as found on the edges of some of Samsung's Galaxy handsets.
The race is on between Huawei and Samsung, the latter of which is rumored to be launching a foldable handset to commemorate the 10th anniversary of its Galaxy line. Called the Galaxy X, Samsung's folding phone is said to have a 7-inch display, measuring about the size of a tablet like the iPad Mini.