Samsung will showcase its upcoming folding smartphone, referred to internally as ‘Winner’, via a conceptual photo instead of with a working prototype at the upcoming Samsung Developer Conference (SDC) according to information provided to Bloomberg by unnamed sources said to be familiar with the project. More specifically, the flagship will be reportedly presented to attendees by engineers working on the phone, tentatively expected to be sold as the Samsung Galaxy F, along with an explanation of the handset’s unique variation of Android. However, the OS itself is still not finished either since there are key design elements still being finalized for the hardware and two builds are up for consideration. In either case, the Korean tech giant is said to be working directly with Google to ensure the best experience possible and it is not likely to be announced or launched until the second quarter of 2019 as a result.
Background: Previously, rumors and leaks pertaining to the Samsung-built folding smartphone have pointed toward a 7.2-inch display when the wallet-like handset is folded out and a 4.5-inch panel when flipped closed. The sources seem to contradict that, indicating that the device will show a display that’s rated at just 4-inches when its folded up and that it will have a mechanism similar to that of traditional flip-phones. With that said, the company has finished testing on the folding screen itself, which is said to be coated in a photograph-like film and can be folded and opened up to 200,000 times without cracking or breaking. The external display should allow for almost any action a user wants to complete, so that should point to a long life for the panel. When it does break, the source claims that it shatters in a way that’s not unlike paper that’s been thoroughly dried out instead of cracking.
Setting that aside, the insiders also touched on at least one or two limitations that aren’t necessarily unexpected but that directly result from the folding mechanism itself and more directly from the display technology. It isn’t explicitly described as an OLED panel, although it is currently expected to be. Meanwhile, because of the larger panels and technology used, the handset is said to currently weigh upwards of 200 grams, nearly half-a-pound. That could be brought down via a reduction in the capacity of the device’s internal battery and Samsung may ultimately choose to go that route. What’s more, there will be no in-display fingerprint scanner on the Samsung Galaxy F because of technical difficulties that are completely unique to the display technology in use. However, Samsung’s main priority here is to be the first company on the market with a truly folding display and smartphone. Prior leaks have suggested that the device might launch with a relatively small batch production run as well and the new information may give some insight into why Samsung has chosen to go that route.
Impact: The Samsung Developer Conference takes place on November 7 and 8 at San Francisco’s Moscone West center. But, given the number of issues that still need to be solved, it’s not at all surprising the Galaxy F isn’t expected to make an appearance aside from in concept imagery. If the company’s goal is to lead the charge into the new segment, its device is going to need to avoid any major design flaws or pitfalls. That’s particularly true since a number of competing companies such as LG, OPPO, Xiaomi, Vivo, Sony, and Huawei are all looking to release folding smartphones in the near future.