Samsung currently plans to produce and ship a million units of its upcoming foldable premium smartphone in the first half of 2019, according to recently reported statements from mobile division CEO DJ Koh. The tentatively named Samsung Galaxy F will not, however, immediately replace the traditional form factor of current devices, the executive said. Instead, those units will be shipped globally in a bid to test the marketability of folding smartphones and the initial pricing of the handset. If popularity grows beyond expectations and sales appear likely to surpass the initial production run, Samsung's production facilities will be on standby and ready to mass produce further units.
Background: The handset in question has not been presented in any detail, for the time being, but it is known that Samsung will be using the new 'Infinity Flex' panels that it first showed off at Samsung Developer Conference 2018. Information about that display itself has been reported, so it may be possible to discern at least some aspects of the handset. For starters, there are essentially two modes for the panel, referred to as "Main Display" mode and "Cover Display" mode. The first of those is what the company calls the device after it's been fully opened up, resulting in a 7.3-inch panel with a resolution of 1536 x 2152 and an aspect ratio of 4.2:3. In Cover Display mode, on the other hand, the size of the display drops to 4.58-inches at a resolution and ratio of 840 x 1960 and 21:9, respectively. In both cases, the pixel density falls in at around 420 dpi. With the reduction in resolution and screen real estate, some applications are also expected to function in a more limited capacity in Cover Display mode – following a newly designed standard set by Google and Samsung for the Android UI in folding smartphones.
Meanwhile, one million units is actually a tiny number of units, with consideration for the fact that Samsung managed to ship more than 72 million smartphones in total over the course of the Q3 2018 in spite of overall market declines. In fact, that's a relatively small number of handsets for most of the world's larger OEMs. By contrast, Huawei managed to move 52 million units and Xiaomi's shipped 34.3 million units. That shows that this really is just a test run and perhaps that Samsung's concept may not be as advanced as many had hoped, in spite of its expected $1,000-plus price tag.
Impact: However, if Samsung's purpose here is apparently to gain a better understanding of how big the user base for the form factor actually is, then the figure makes sense. If the device turns out to be a more niche product, it may be able to justify a higher price and lower turnout from the factory. Conversely, it may lower the purchase cost in that scenario in a bid to corner the folding smartphone market and bolster its defenses against Huawei, Xiaomi, and LG, who are also expected to release folding Android gadgets in the near term. On the other hand, if it sells better than expected, the company could simply increase production to meet demand and hold off on big changes to pricing or availability.