Futuristic Flexible Tablets and Smartphones have taken our imagination for several years. Whether there are folding tablets in Westworld or the many book-like discs with folding pages in Microsoft's future vision videos, a phone that is folded out into a much larger device is dreamy. Samsung is now trying to make these wild concepts reality.
The Galaxy manufacturer launched its new Infinity Flex Display yesterday, an imaging technology that allows a tablet-size screen to fold in a device that approximates the size and shape of a smartphone. While we have seen flexible and flexible portable devices, this is one of the first times we have seen such a display in a phone that is rumored to be broadcast in 2019. Samsung's device was "disguised" by what appears to be a rough case, and only appears under low light, but it is far more than just conceptual art.
Samsung actually uses two separate monitors to create their folding phone – one on the inside and one smaller screen on the outside – unlike Royole's FlexPai, which uses a single fake display on the outside of the device. Samsung's internal display is 7.3 inches with a resolution of 1536 x 2152 (4.2: 3). It folds in half to reveal a second screen on the front of the device. This second "cover screen", as Samsung calls it, acts as a 4.58 inch phone interface with a resolution of 840 x 1960 (21: 9). It is also flanked by much larger frames on the top and bottom compared to the internal screen. Although it looks very bad, Samsung says that the device hiding inside the disguise is actually "amazing".
This combination of screens has given us an early glimpse of what can be expected from folding phones 2019 and beyond. Because glass is not smooth, Samsung has to develop new materials to protect its new screen. Infinity Flex Display uses a polymer that Samsung says is both "flexible and hard", which means it can maintain its strength even when it is folded and developed "hundreds of thousands of times". Samsung has combined this with a new glue that laminates different screen layers together to allow them to bend. None of these is glass, so it may feel a little different than we usually use with modern phones, tablets and touchpad.
Just like smartphones began with plastic resistant displays and stylus inputs, before the iPhone showed that capacitive touch on glass was the future, this folding time will contain compromises before technology advances. Samsung's device, while locked, did not look particularly thin compared to modern smartphones. The rings folded for use as a phone are also great compared to modern edge-to-edge flagships, and the folding screen Samsung has chosen makes the device very long when it's closed.
"Folding phones are 3D tv in the mobile world", proclaimed Wall Street Journal tech columnist Christopher Mims on Twitter. Samsung, LG and many other TV manufacturers in a certain way pushed 3D TVs to consumers at different annual Consumer Electronics Shows, but they never really caught up. They were seen as a gimmick to sell more 1080p televisions without offering a superior viewing experience. Not everyone agrees that folding phones will float, though.
"Few discusses" whether "foldable or rollable mobile screens is the future of smartphones, the only question is when and by whom," explains Patrick Moorhead, an industry analyst at Moor Insights and former AMD CEO. "The core advantage of a folding smartphone is that the user can benefit from a larger display, but still fit into the pocket, hood or handbag."
In 2011, the gigantic 5.3-inch screen of the Galaxy Note met with technical guffaws met. Today, we only call phablets, phones. Similarly, the curved display of the often ridiculous Galaxy Note Edge and Galaxy Round in Infinity Displays was found on Samsung's modern S-Series flagship. If the mobile phone is following a similar trip, Samsung's first device will not fully take into account the potential of the design – instead, it will mark the start of a new battle for this exciting screening technology.
"This is not just a concept," says Justin Denison, SVP for mobile product marketing on Samsung. "The breakthrough we've made in display material has been matched by breakthroughs in manufacturing. As a result, we will be ready to start mass production in the next few months."
The growth of mass production means that manufacturers of devices will be able to choose this screen just as they already do with Samsung's OLED panels. Huawei plans to release a folding handset next year. Lenovo and Xiaomi have also plagued their own prototypes, and LG also works with its own flexible OLED displays and televisions that roll up in a box. The 2019 Consumer Electronics Exhibition can be a first folding device powered by Android's official support for folding displays.
Google support will be crucial because this type of new form factor requires close hardware and software connection. Samsung creates its own Multi Active Window software that enables its folding phone to display three apps simultaneously. Multitasking is just an aspect of software, and Samsung along with Google must optimize the entire Android user interface and experience for these types of devices. Apple has traditionally been accustomed to hardware and software integration. In fact, there is rumors that a collapsible iPhone may pop up within the next two years.
Folding phones are the obvious initial market for this screening technology, but manufacturers will be much more ambitious when imagery matures. Samsung is also promising rollable and extendable OLED monitors in the future. Imagine folding or rolling a 55-inch TV into something that fits into the bag or finally replaces pen and paper with a foldable tablet. It sounds incredible right now, but we are only at the beginning of our flexible future.