Samsung is allegedly working on a smartphone that features a flexible display that can unfold to turn the device into a 7-inch tablet. According to the report, the electronics giant had initially developed a flexible “fold-in” display, but deemed it unacceptable -- many executives felt that consumers would balk at having to unfold the display whenever they wanted to use it. Engineers eventually settled on a flexible “fold-out” display for a smartphone that could convert into a tablet.
“Since the company already secured fold-in phone technology, it was not a big challenge to shift into the fold-out phones,” said a source close to Samsung.
If the smartphone/tablet hybrid were to be approved for production, Samsung would have the capacity to ship 100,000 units during the third quarter with production likely ramping up in subsequent quarters (to meet demand).
Samsung design patent for a foldable display
Some feel that smartphone design is stagnating, and OEMs are looking for more ways to “wow” consumers and usher in the next great design trend. Samsung was at the forefront with smartphones that featured dramatically curved displays, while LG (and now HTC) has tinkered with secondary screens mounted above the primary display.
Google abandoned its modular smartphone “Project Ara” platform, while LG’s modular G5 flagship crashed and burned during 2016 (its G6 successor will not go the modular route). Lenovo/Motorola has found success with its modular Moto Z family, and is actively cultivating developers to make the ecosystem thrive.
Will foldable screens be “The Next Big Thing”? Only time will tell.