Samsung Electronics has been working on foldable display technologies for many years, and the company even showcased a variety of foldable displays at numerous tech events in the past. A final consumer product has yet to come out of Samsung's factory gates, however, according to a new report from South Korea citing “sources familiar with the matter”, Samsung might be ready to release more than 100,000 fold-out smart devices in the third quarter of the year.
According to the source, although Samsung has been working on “fold-in” designs bearing foldable screens for the past few years, it was last year in August when the company decided to switch gears and work on “fold-out” designs instead. Reportedly, the reason for this is because the company found fold-in designs to be somewhat cumbersome, as these devices would tuck the foldable display on the inside. In contrast, a fold-out design adopts a foldable screen on the outer side, making the panel visible and accessible when the device is folded or otherwise. In fact, according to the report, Samsung’s mysterious foldable device that is said to be ready for a debut in Q3 2017 can be used as a 7-inch tablet when unfolded, which could also mean that the same device would have a smaller footprint when folded, similar to a pocketable smartphone. In any case, the report goes on to mention that Samsung has yet to make a final decision in regards to building this foldable device this year and that the company is considering marketability and profitability. In addition, the source says that “the final decision will be made after the personal reshuffle”, which was postponed from December to February or March 2017.
Interestingly enough, Samsung is not the only South Korean tech giant to consider using foldable displays, and LG Electronics has also been working on foldable panels for the past several years. In fact, according to the source, LG Electronics has more advanced foldable display technologies compared to Samsung, but unlike Samsung who is looking to create foldable panels for its own devices, LG is rumored to want and supply foldable displays to other smartphone manufacturers including Huawei and Apple. In any case, market research firm Strategy Analytics predicts that by the year 2022, the foldable display market will top 163 million units. The firm also adds that the market will likely accommodate 2.7 million foldable units in the year 2017.