Samsung's somewhat rumored gaming handset may be a smartphone-tablet hybrid with a hidden attached controller and a folding display panel based on a recently published design patent spotted by Dutch tech blog LetsGoDigital.
The design isn't entirely different from previously spotted patents in its folding mechanism, featuring a slotted foldable material as part of its frame rather than a traditional hinge -- although those have appeared in Samsung designs as well. That segment of the proposed tablet is placed near the center of its rectangular shape, allowing the folded device to have a wide, but still smartphone-like, display ratio when folded.
Where the newly spotted design separates itself from the ongoing wave of protected folding smartphone IP is in its second fold. At the right-hand edge, another segment of the handset is intended to be flipped up, whether in tablet or phone orientation. It's also built around a hinge design and, in the latter of those configurations, it folds away from the user in landscape mode.
Regardless of how the user has arranged the screen, that secondary fold reveals a directional pad and six buttons when it's flipped out, clearly defining the device as a gaming handset.
The back of that panel is a relatively standard display panel, rather than wasting space with a blank glass, metal, or plastic slab. That means when the control is tucked away, the screen is slightly larger.
Predictions about Samsung's Gaming future
Speculation about a Samsung-built gaming flagship has been sparse but just detailed enough to raise at least a few eyebrows and the newly reported patent might give some insight into the direction the company might take. The most prominent of rumors have indicated that Samsung's first foldable handset will be geared directly towards gamers and that the Korean tech giant might abandon ARM GPUs in favor of in-house S-GPUs for graphics processing.
Samsung has already shown off its flexible display panel as of late 2018, highlighting a few specs that may be used but keeping the final design obscured from viewers at its annual Samsung Developer Conference event. The device shown at that gathering doesn't seem to match up with the patent at all.
To begin with, the tentatively dubbed Samsung Galaxy Fold will reportedly feature a 4.58-inch external display with a resolution of 840 x 1960 pixels and a 21:9 aspect ratio. Folding the device open, similar to a paperback novel, reveals a 7.3-inch panel with a resolution of 1536 x 2152.
If the Samsung Galaxy Fold is intended to serve both as Samsung's first dedicated gaming phone and its first folder, the screen orientations don't seem to match up at all but that doesn't necessarily mean much. The reason behind Samsung's decision to relay just a few details and to prevent the panel from being shown in a consumer-level device likely indicates that the company wasn't finished designing it yet.
This has been in the works for a while now
While the patent has just recently been published, Samsung first filed its patent way back in 2017. That doesn't mean a folding smartphone with a flip-out controller and folding panel will ever appear in the real-world smartphone market either. But it could still add some weight to speculation that the company might utilize the design since it's had plenty of time for refinement and other optimizations, whether in the upcoming next-gen gaming smartphone or its successor.