Another round of reports regarding the commercialization of foldable displays and smartphones emerged earlier today from South Korean publication The Korea Herald. Citing a Samsung Display principal engineer, the report claims that foldable smartphones will not be commercialized earlier than the year 2019, as there are still technical challenges that need to be overcome before the technology will be viable for the consumer market. Until then, it would appear that the main focus will remain on bezel-free display technology.
According to The Korea Herald, Samsung Display’s principal engineer Kim Tae-woong discussed a bit about the future of foldable smartphones during the Display TechSalon event in Seoul. Reportedly, the Samsung engineer said that foldable displays will most likely not be ready for prime-time earlier than 2019, and added that bezel-free display technology “currently sells well” and gives the company “enough time to develop foldable displays”. Samsung Display has been working on foldable display technology for the past several years, and recent reports prior to the Samsung Galaxy S8 official announcement suggested that the tech giant could launch its first foldable smartphone as early as 2017 or sometime in 2018. Samsung also filed for numerous patents surrounding flexible displays so the first foldable device seemed to be getting closer than ever to market debut. Sadly, it would seem that Samsung has no immediate plans for launching a foldable smart device, and in the meantime, the company will focus on bezel-free display technology.
However, it’s also interesting to note that this may be a strategic decision rather than an outcome of technical challenges. According to HI Investment and Securities analyst Chung Won-seok, Samsung Display won’t commercialize foldable phones earlier than 2019 “because the company does not need to sell the new hardware” as it already enjoys 20% of operating profits generated by bezel-free display technology. According to the aforementioned South Korean publication, the analyst also stated that Samsung will unveil its mysterious foldable device as its next secret weapon once the demand for bezel-free devices will start to diminish. After all, Samsung seemed eager to introduce its latest flagship as a smartphone with a new form factor, and the company might not be ready to launch yet another device with an even newer form factor to boot. Whatever the reasoning might be, it looks like foldable devices won’t be coming as early as some enthusiasts would have hoped.