It’s been one of the biggest rumored smartphone projects of all time. If it happens, it could start the next major revolution in the mobile phone industry, surpassing the current bezel-less display trend. We are talking about the many rumors and reports that Samsung is working on a phone with a flexible display that can actually fold, either in-ward or out-ward. So far, we have yet to see a real Samsung foldable phone hit the market. However, there are lots of indications that Samsung not only plans to launch such a smartphone, but that it could finally happen in 2019.
In this article, we take a look at what we currently know about the almost mythical Samsung foldable phone, along with all of the rumors about this device that have been reported over the years. We will be updating this article with the latest plausible news and rumors about this foldable smartphone from Samsung as they are reported.
Samsung foldable phone: A brief history
The rumors about a Samsung phone with a foldable display have been popping up for years — yes, years. Samsung has been pretty open about its research into making flexible displays, and it’s been working on them for over a decade. In 2008, the company first showed an OLED screen that could be bent for a smartphone. At CES in 2011, Samsung actually showed off a prototype for a smartphone with a flexible AMOLED display.
However, making a flexible display is one thing. Making it work in mass quantities for a consumer smartphone is something else. Samsung has filed a number of patents for foldable phones and displays over the years. In 2013, there were rumors that the company was actually going to announce such a phone, the Galaxy Q, during that year’s Mobile World Congress trade show. Those rumors claimed the phone would have a foldable dual Super AMOLED HD display with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, along with Samsung’s own Exynos 5250 processor, 2GB of RAM, an 8MP rear camera, and a 2MP front camera. However, no such phone was announced at that event, at least to the general public or reporters.
In 2014, Samsung posted a video showing a concept for a foldable phone, featuring a small display on the outside. The phone then folded out to show a larger display that’s stored inside with a flexible screen. Later that year, a Samsung executive claimed that the company would “secure production capacity of 30,000 to 40,000 [flexible displays each month] by the end of next year”. Yet, 2015 came and went with no such announcement of flexible displays, much less a phone with such a screen.
In 2015, another rumor popped up that Samsung was working on a new device with the code name “Project Valley”. Instead of a flexible screen, this rumored phone was supposed to have a pair of separate screens.
That mythical smartphone was rumored to launch sometime in 2016, but again it didn’t happen. In the meantime, Samsung continued to post patents on its foldable phone display research. In April 2017, Kim Tae-woong, Samsung Display’s principal engineer, was quoted as saying that a Samsung foldable phone would not be released before 2019. However, just a few months later, in September 2017, the CEO of Samsung, DJ Koh, told reporters,”We will launch a foldable device when we are fully ready, and we are aiming to do so next year (2018).”
In 2018, rumors hit the internet that Samsung had once again showed prototypes of smartphones with flexible displays behind closed doors at CES. Later this year, a patent filing with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) was leaked, showing a Samsung phone concept with a flexible 7.3-inch OLED display. This design features a device that folds inside. Some reports have referred to this product as the “Galaxy X”, but there are also rumors that the final version of this device could be released as part of Samsung’s Galaxy Note lineup.
The latest rumor about a future Samsung foldable phone claims that the company has given the project a new, and rather ambitious, internal code name: “Winner“. It adds that the phone could launch sometime in early 2019, with an announcement planned for that year’s MWC show.
Samsung foldable phone: Name and release date
As we mentioned, there have been a number of rumored code names for the Samsung foldable phone, including “Project Valley”, “Galaxy X” and now “Winner”. However, none of them are expected to be the actual name when the handset itself is released. There are rumors Samsung could launch the phone under the Galaxy Note family, since it will likely have a large screen when it is completely folded out and the Note line is supposed to be the home for Samsung’s phones with its biggest displays.
Samsung foldable phone: Specs and design
It’s way too early to even speculate about the hardware specs for the Samsung foldable phone. It’s also a bit too early to speculate about the final design for such a phone, as we have seen numerous concepts for such a device for years. Some have shown a device that folds out to reveal a smartphone with a standard size display, but can be folded inside so it can fit in smaller pockets. Some have have a display on the outside that works like a smartphone, but the inside can fold out to show an even larger tablet-like display.
The latest rumors (and again, these are just rumors) claim that Samsung’s 2019 “Winner” foldable phone will have an in-fold design, with one 3.5-inch OLED display outside, and two 3.5-inch OLED screens inside that fold out to a larger 7-inch display. Once again, treat these rumors with a huge grain of salt.
Samsung foldable phone: Possible rivals?
While Samsung has been the biggest promoter of foldable phones, it’s not the only company that has shown interest in this kind of device. We have seen phones released with twin displays that fold into each other, connected by a hinge, from companies like Sony and most recently from ZTE with the Axon M. Huawei has also revealed it is working on a foldable phone of its own. A more recent rumor claims that Huawei was working with LG Design on the display for its foldable phone, with an inward form factor, and that it was hoping to launch it by November, possibly beating Samsung to the punch.
In 2016, Lenovo showed off prototype concepts for a foldable smartphone and tablet, including a phone that could literally wrap around a person’s wrist. However, since then Lenovo has not indicated any plans to release these concepts as actual consumer devices.
Samsung foldable phone: Final thoughts
There is no doubt that research and development for a Samsung foldable phone has been going on for years, and if the most recent rumors and reports are accurate, the company might actually release such a foldable smartphone in early 2019. However, we have seen lots of reports in the past that this device has been right around the corner, only to be disappointed when it didn’t materialize. Hopefully, these latest reports won’t follow the same fate.
Are you excited about the prospect of a foldable phone from Samsung? Let us know in the comments.