Patent Sheds More Light On Samsung's Foldable Phone Plans

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By Mihai Matei November 08, 2018, 7:40am
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A patent application published today by WIPO has shed more light on Samsung Electronics’ foldable mobile device featuring a flexible display. Samsung showcased a working prototype for a similar device yesterday, although its exterior design was hidden with a protective case. The prototype seemed to be equipped with two panels, having a larger Infinity Flex display on one side for tablet-like usage, and a smaller screen on the opposite side for when the device is being used as a smartphone. However, the latest patent application shows a different idea revolving around a single Infinity Flex panel which sits on the outside of the gadget and wraps around its exterior, rather than being tucked inside when folded. This eliminates the need for a secondary screen and contributes to a more elegant design and is possibly Samsung's ultimate vision for the bendable handset concept.

The patent application is accompanied by numerous sketches (below) showcasing Samsung’s view on how its Infinity Flex technology should be put into practice, or this seems to be at least one of the ways in which the flexible display technology will be implemented on future commercial foldable mobile products. As expected, the main idea is to have a small device with a smartphone-like form factor, capable of being unfolded to present a larger, tablet-grade form factor with an appropriate screen size. Judging by the sketches, the flexible smartphone barely has any side edges, but features thick top and bottom bezels, with the top one accommodating a loudspeaker and what appears to be a total of four sensors for different purposes. When the device is folded, it actually seems to resemble Samsung’s original Galaxy Edge, which was the company’s first commercially-available mobile device to make use of flexible display technology, even though that particular model didn’t have a foldable form-factor. A lot of engineering seems to have been put into the hinge mechanism as well, and overall, the device appears to have a fairly thin profile.

Following Samsung's announcement at SDC, reports revealed that the OEM's Infinity Flex display should be ready to enter mass production in the coming months, which could mean that Samsung's first foldable device might hit the shelves in 2019. But while the tech giant will enter a new territory with the launch of a new form factor backed up by this heavily-researched display technology, the OEM won’t abandon its existing chocolate-bar form factor either. In fact, yesterday Samsung also revealed the Infinity-U, Infinity-V, and Infinity-O panels designed with notches in mind, as well as a notch-less solution called Infinity New. The Samsung Galaxy S10, which should be unveiled around February 2019, will employ one of these panels, while the Infinity Flex technology will be reserved for a considerably more expensive foldable device which will likely target a more niche audience, at least at first.

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November 08, 2018, 7:40am
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