LG has yet to mention anything about foldable smartphones, but the Korean Android OEM is planning to, as usual, take on its Korean rival with a foldable smartphone that may have perceived Samsung's 2020 Galaxy Fold a year in advance.
LG foldable phone features Z Form "zigzag" design
LG filed a patent back in 2018 for a stylus-equipped foldable smartphone and the patent was approved in May of this year. As one can see from the images below, LG's stylus-equipped foldable smartphone would arrive in a "Z Fold" form factor, where the phone folds in two places, creating something of a "zigzag" design.
Samsung recently received patent approval for its own Z Fold design for a future foldable smartphone, and the Z Fold factor is useful for one major reason: it allows the smartphone to be folded and stored as a compact device. This means that users may be able to pocket the device (fold it into a pocket and carry it).
The Z Fold form factor is one of a few foldable phone factors Android OEMs are experimenting with at the moment. Samsung's Galaxy Fold was announced with a book-folding form factor, where users close the tablet form factor like one closes the pages of a book or, as Samsung demonstrates in its marketing materials, like a butterfly flaps its wings. LG's foldable smartphone (or one of them), if it takes the Z Fold form factor, will open like a pamphlet rather than a book.
LG foldable phone comes stylus-equipped
Aside from the Z Fold form factor, which offers a more compact and useful design for consumers, LG's foldable smartphone comes equipped with a stylus, a strike at Samsung and its stylus-equipped Galaxy Note — and Samsung's stylus-absent Galaxy Fold.
LG has often had "Samsung envy," with the Korean Android OEM sitting in Samsung's shadow for the last several years. Samsung's Galaxy Note series with its famous S Pen with Wacom technology is the most prestigious consumer smartphone in the market, outside of the iPhone. LG's envy drove it to create G Stylo and Q Stylus smartphone series and give users a more budget-friendly alternative to the high-end Galaxy Note flagship.
There is no word on the possible software experience with the stylus, as LG has not yet announced this phone, but it's likely to have a stylus experience similar to that of the G Stylo or the Q Stylus series.
With LG eager to reinvigorate its smartphone sales and profits, the company is looking for a way to make a splash into the futuristic foldable phone market in a way that helps it compete with Samsung. A stylus-equipped foldable smartphone is the way to do it, as Samsung hasn't yet released a stylus-equipped foldable smartphone.
LG stylus-equipped foldable smartphone highlights Samsung's rushed Galaxy Fold
Samsung tried in vain to release the Galaxy Fold this summer, though the device came riddled with flaws. Device reviewers started reporting problems as early as 48 hours after receiving their new units, complaining of everything from flickering screens to dust and dirt particles getting inside the hinge.
The polyamide film Samsung supplied as a protective cover for the device was assumed by reviewers to be nothing more than an optional screen protector. Samsung recalled the unit, later revealing in an interview that it rushed the Galaxy Fold to market to beat Huawei to the forefront of the foldable scene.
And yet, even when Samsung announced the Galaxy Fold, it did so sans the coveted S Pen stylus. LG is capitalizing upon this, with a patent that would "one-up" Samsung with a stylus for its foldable smartphone. Samsung has its reasons behind why it left the S Pen out of the Galaxy Fold, but it likely did so to make its first-generation smartphone a foldable phone that would resonate with the majority of consumers. The Galaxy S series is Samsung's most famous smartphone series, not the Galaxy Note (despite its prestigious status in the high-end flagship Android market).
And yet, it's not a secret that Samsung introduces new features onto one series, then the other. The Galaxy Note Edge was the first smartphone to feature Samsung's curved edge design, and the edge design trickled down to the Galaxy S series. So, if Samsung follows suit, the Galaxy Note series will see a foldable version with the Note's S Pen sometime in the future — perhaps in 2020.
With Samsung's upcoming foldable smartphone that looks likely to feature its S Pen stylus, LG may be preparing itself for a similar launch next year. There's no word on whether or not LG will launch a foldable smartphone this year, though just what LG has in store for its foldable debut, only LG knows.