Samsung's first foldable Android smartphone will launch this year, the company's mobile chief DJ Koh told CNBC, dispelling previous rumors about the handset being scheduled for an early 2019 debut. The industry veteran said Samsung's internal estimates suggest the market is ready for a bendable mobile device, though older reports suggested the company sees this product category as a niche offering and was prepared to commercialize it sooner if it had the technological ability to do so.
As Mr. Koh himself previously hinted Samsung will be releasing its first foldable handset in 2019, it's presently unclear what prompted the company to accelerate that timeline, though the development may be related to the fact that Huawei is said to be planning to launch a similar product later this year and Samsung repeatedly said it wanted to beat its Chinese rival in the bendable phone race. Mr. Koh suggested Samsung spent a great deal of time on figuring how an unfolded mode would be different than a tablet experience, stating that most traditional smartphone use cases will be supported in the device's folded form. While the executive was vague on the technical details of the handset, recent reports suggested Samsung is essentially looking to deliver a single-screen flip phone whose display panel can be bent into a shape of a traditional wallet.
Besides its first foldable phone, Samsung will also debut a handset with four rear cameras by the end of the year, according to a new rumor which started making the rounds on Sunday. As for the bendable device, it's likely to be priced at over $1,500 and be available in limited quantities, at least until Samsung is done testing the market response to its first-of-a-kind product. The handset is likely to be equipped with high-end internals comparable to those found in the newly debuted Galaxy Note 9 flagship.