Smart tablets and smart phones with a futuristic look have captured our imagination for years. Whether the foldable tablets are found Westworld or the many slates of books with folding pages in the future vision videos of Microsoft, a phone that doubles a much larger device is that of a dream. Samsung is now trying to make these wild concepts a reality.
The Galaxy maker showed yesterday its new Infinity Flex Display, a display technology that will allow a tablet size screen to bend in a device that approximates the size and shape of a smartphone. While we saw flexible and flexible portable devices, this is one of the first times we've seen that screen on a phone that is rumored to be launched in 2019. Samsung's device was "disguised" so it seems to be a chunky case, and shown only under Thin light, but it is much more than just conceptual art.
Samsung is using two separate screens to create its foldable phone: one inside and a smaller screen on the outside, unlike Royole's FlexPai, which uses a single folding screen on the outside of the device. Samsung's internal screen is 7.3 inches with a resolution of 1536 x 2152 (4.2: 3). Fold in half to reveal a second screen on the front of the device. This second "cover screen", like the Samsung call, works like a 4.58-inch phone interface with a resolution of 840 x 1960 (21: 9). It is also flanked by much larger bezels on the top and bottom compared to the internal screen. Although it seems very robust, Samsung claims that the device that is hidden inside the costume is really "surprising."
This combination of screens leaves us a quick idea about what to expect from folding phones in 2019 and beyond. Since glass is not flexible, Samsung has had to develop new materials to protect its new screen. The Infinity Flex screen uses a polymer that Samsung says is "flexible and tough", which means it can maintain its strength even when folded and unfolds "hundreds of thousands of times." Samsung combines this with a new adhesive that laminates the layers together to allow it to flex. It's not about glass, though, it could feel a little different from what we're used to with modern phones, tablets and touchpads.
Just as smart phones started with plastic resistive screens and stylus inputs, before the iPhone showed that the capacitive touch on the glass was the future, this would be foldable to include compromises before the technology advances. Samsung's device, while the pallet, did not seem particularly slim compared to modern smartphones. The bevels when bent for use as a phone are also gigantic compared to the modern flagship of the tip and tip and the bend screen that Samsung has chosen makes the device very loud when it is closed.
"Dobrier phones are the 3D television of the mobile world," he proclaimed Wall Street Journal tech Christopher Mims on Twitter. Samsung, LG and many other television manufacturers have launched 3D televisions to consumers in various consumer electronics programs, but never seized them. They were seen as a trick to sell more 1080p televisions without offering a superior viewing experience. Not everyone agrees that folding phones will fail.
"Few debate" if "Durable or Rollable Mobile screens are the future of smart phones, the only question is when and for whom," explains Patrick Moorhead, industry analyst at Moor Insights and former AMD executive. "The main benefit of a folding smartphone is that the user can have the benefit of a larger screen, but it can still fit in your pocket, jacket or bag."
In 2011, the giant 5.3-inch screen on the Galaxy Note was found with guffaws in technological circles. Today we only call phablets, phones. Similarly, the curved screen on the Galaxy Note Edge and the ridiculed Galaxy Round eventually became the Infinity Displays found in the modern Samsung S series of flagship. If folding phones make a similar route, Samsung's first device will not capture the potential of the design, but will mark the beginning of an emerging battle over this intriguing technology.
"This is not just a concept," says Justin Denison, vice president of mobile product marketing at Samsung. "The advances that we made in the visual materials were coincident with the advances in the manufacture. As a result, we will be ready to begin mass production in the coming months."
The emergence of mass production means that device manufacturers can choose this screen as they already do with Samsung's OLED panels. Surely, Huawei plans to launch a folding device next year. Lenovo and Xiaomi also mocked their own prototypes and LG also works on their own OLED screens and flexible TVs that move in a box. The Consumer Electronics Show of 2019 in January could be an initial battlefield for foldable devices, fueled by the official Android support for folding screens.
Google support will be key, as this type of new form factor will require a close connection of hardware and software. Samsung is creating its own Multi Active Windows program that will allow its folding phone to show three applications at the same time. Multitasking is just one aspect of the software and Samsung, along with Google, must optimize the entire Android user interface and the experience of this type of device. Apple traditionally stood out in the integration of hardware and software. In fact, there are rumors that a folding iPhone could appear in the next two years.
Folding phones are the obvious initial market for this screen technology, but manufacturers will have much more ambition as visualization technology matures. Samsung is also promising rolable and stretched OLED screens in the future. Imagine bending or winding a 55-inch TV into something that will fit into your bag or finally replace the pen and paper with a broken table. It seems incredible at this time, but we are only at the beginning of our flexible future.