After years of rumors and speculation, Samsung finally revealed its foldable phone concept.
Samsung showed off the Infinity Flex Display during its annual developer conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.
In a brief demo at SDC, Samsung demonstrated the new flexible display tech that will enable the still unnamed foldable phone. The company said it was disguising some elements of the phone’s design, but we still got a clear look at the phone folding up from a small tablet size to a pocket-sized phone.
“Infinity Flex represents the biggest leap forward in mobile display technology in the last decade. We’ll be ready to start mass production in the coming months,” Samsung SVP of Mobile Product Marketing Justin Denison said. The eventual phone that uses the display is expected to launch in 2019.
The display is made of a new type of material (composed of a “composite polymer”) Samsung says it created specifically for a folding device. It can be folded “hundreds of thousands of times” without breaking down, Denison said.
When unfolded, the Infinity Flex Display is 7.3 inches and can support up to three apps running at once. But it can also be used normally when it’s folded up in its smaller size. And you’ll be able to seamlessly move between both displays while using an app just by opening the device.
There are still a lot of questions Samsung left unanswered about the phone. Namely, what it will actually look like, what it will be called, and how much it will cost. Denison made it clear the hardware that was demoed onstage Wednesday was prototype hardware meant to show off the display tech, not what the final product will look like.
The reveal comes at a time when interest in foldable phones is heating up. Chinese company Royole just launched a $1,300 foldable phone called FlexPai. Huawei has also said that it’s working on a foldable 5G phone.
Perhaps the more important question is not when these phones will launch, but if there will be software necessary to make them viable. As I wrote earlier this week when I tried out Royole’s FlexPai, phone makers will need developers to build apps optimized for these foldable phones.
On that note, Samsung and others got a major piece of good news. Google announced that Android will support foldable phones and make it easier for developers to adapt their apps. Speaking at Google’s Android Dev Summit, the VP of engineering for Android, David Burke, confirmed Google is working to add support for foldable phones to Android.
“We’re enhancing Android to take advantage of this new form factor with as little work as necessary from you,” he told developers in attendance. “It’s an exciting concept and we expect to see foldable products from several Android manufacturers. In fact, we’re already working closely with Samsung on a new device they plan to launch early next year.”
Samsung is also making an emulator available to developers so they can optimize apps ahead of the phone’s eventual launch.
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