samsung foldable phone

Samsung demos ‘Infinity Flex Display’ foldable phone

Image credit: reuters

Samsung has finally unveiled its first foldable phone featuring an ‘Infinity Flex Display’, after teasing the technology earlier in the year.

At its Developer Conference last night, a prototype was unveiled on stage that features a smaller phone screen on the exterior of the device which can then be opened into a screen measuring 7.3 inches (18.5 cm), akin to a small tablet.

That device used a blocky case to hide the final design and no concrete details about specs were revealed. However, it is expected to be pricey on release so will probably include Qualcomm’s next flagship processor, which Samsung is already tipped to be using in its next Galaxy phone.

While a foldable phone has been rumoured for some time, niche manufacturer Royole beat Samsung to it last week when it unveiled its own device. Unlike Samsung, its phone only has one screen that folds backwards into a book-like design.

At its San Francisco event, Samsung urged Android developers to start writing apps using new sets of APIs that would allow them to switch seamlessly between the smaller phone-sized display and the larger tablet display. It also roped in Google’s lead developer for Android’s UX, who explained that the two companies were working together to ensure that Android performs well on a flexible screen.

While the Samsung executive demonstrated the device on stage neither media nor developers were given a chance to touch or see the device up close.

The South Korean tech company needs to get the foldable phone right to reverse steep declines in profit for its mobile division and restore some of the cachet its brand has lost to Apple.

Samsung said it would be ready for mass production in the coming months.

Developer Joshua Clark, who was at the conference, said Samsung needs to sell the technology to its competitors for the product to be widely adopted.

“I really think it only takes two companies, and then all of the sudden it will catch on,” said Clark. “And the fact that Google was on stage, that says a lot. For developers to be able to integrate it with all their apps, that gives me a lot of confidence.”

Analyst Bob O’Donnell with Technalysis Research said that while the bendable screen provided a wow factor, shoppers may not like the thickness of the folded phone or its price tag.

“They’ll have to prove that it’s more than just a gimmick,” said O’Donnell. “But it’s smart to open it up to developers early to do different types of experiences.”

Maribel Lopez, an analyst at Lopez Research, said that the product would probably be relatively expensive in the near term.

“We’re talking about brand new materials that have been made for this and also a new manufacturing process,” said Lopez.

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