A patent application discovered by LetsGoDigital in the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) database may have revealed how one of Samsung's future foldable devices will look like. While the Galaxy Fold is official and waiting for a market release, the patent applications have not stopped as the OEM attempts to push the foldable display technology further into the forefront.
The easiest way to look at the recently patented design is to compare it with the existing foldable models. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Fold, the new design has a single flexible display that wraps around the outside of the device, similar to the Huawei Mate X, but the hinge has a unique design complete with a locking mechanism.
The patent application at hand doesn't necessarily reveal the final design of a new foldable device, but instead, it focuses primarily on this hinge and the overall form factor.
The hinge seems to have been created specifically to compensate for the fact that the panel sits on the outside, and folding the phone without a special hinge would stretch the display beyond the breaking point due to the difference in radius. Either that or it would result in wrinkles when unfolded. Samsung developed a special hinge for the Samsung Galaxy Fold as well.
At the moment, the OEM is said to have a production capacity for its foldable display technology of around 2 million panels per year. Samsung is expected to gradually improve its manufacturing ability once there will be enough demand.
In the meantime, the tech giant previously stated that the Galaxy Fold is only the beginning of a new era, and the research & development required for its creation have allows it to consider other even more ambitious designs, such as stretchable and rollable phones.
But in truth, the OEMs who have joined the foldable segment early on are simply testing the market with their early products. The adoption rate for the Galaxy Fold will not be that high and perhaps it would be better for Samsung if it would consider creating a lower-cost foldable device. One that would fit in-between the Galaxy S10 series and the Galaxy Fold, the latter of which will launch for $1,980.
Increasing the adoption rate of early foldable devices by offering a lower-cost alternative to the Galaxy Fold would help to prove that the foldable concept as a whole is worth it and would further boost the production capacity.
This alternative device might be the one envisioned in this latest patent application. It doesn't require a secondary screen, but then again it doesn't look much like a smartphone either. Maybe Samsung should look at one of its existing smartphone lineups for an answer, and that is the Galaxy Folder clamshell smartphone series sold in China.
Maybe going back to the older clamshell form factor and rethinking it with the help of foldable display technology would allow the OEM to create a compelling device that would not cost twice as much as a premium smartphone featuring the "chocolate bar" form factor.
This type of design wouldn't require two screens or two batteries, the single panel would be smaller and thus cheaper to manufacture, and arguably it's a familiar form factor that has enjoyed a lot of popularity in the past. Motorola appears to be considering reviving the Razer series with a foldable screen, and it might have the right idea for the emerging segment.