ETNews reports that Samsung's ultra-thin glass (UTG) supplier DOWOO INSYS is planning to ramp up operations. Apparently, the expansion plans are in line with the South Korean company's intentions of popularizing the foldable form factor. The Galaxy Fold has a plastic screen cover that is ridiculously easy to scratch. Thus, for the upcoming Samsung foldable phones, the company is considering retiring this plastic polyimide layer in favor of UTG.
UTG is pretty thin. DOWOO INSYS is reportedly capable of making panels that are 100µm thin. The manufacturer can presumably further reduce the thickness to 30µm. Since glass is less prone to scratches, it can increase the durability of foldable handsets.
DOWOO INSYS Hopes To Benefit From The Foldable Trend
DOWOO INSYS is a relatively new company. Just like Samsung, it hails from South Korea. The company has received $10.3 million from Samsung Venture Investment since its inception in 2010. The manufacturer is Samsung's executive UTG supplier, says the report.
And now, the company is looking for additional investment for its mass-production facility. The manufacturer can apparently currently churn out 500,000 UTG panels every month.
Samsung Display apparently works with it to optimize the UTG technology. And now the company is eager to win all early orders for the forthcoming Samsung foldable phones.
However, there is one problem. The production capacity hasn't been realized yet. This means the aforementioned 500,000 output rate is not the operation rate. The company wants to increase supply and for this it needs funding. This will help it invest in the facility and equipment. Apparently, the company is hoping that Samsung will be its savior and provide the investment.
Apart from the low yield, there is also another issue. Since UTG is in infancy, it costs a lot to make. And that doesn't bode well with Samsung's apparent plans of making its next foldable phone more affordable than the Galaxy Fold. Thus, it's entirely possible that the next bendable phone in line will have the same plastic layer as its predecessor.
Samsung has apparently already singed a medium and long-term contract with DOWOO INSYS. This supposedly binds the panel supplier to remain Samsung's exclusive supplier. This means it cannot provide its UTG panels to other companies, like Huawei for instance. And if they are stuck with plastic, it gives Samsung an edge.
But then, of course, this is not an indefinite contract. And once it expires, the company will be free to sell panels to other companies. After all, the foldable market is apparently ripe for growth. In addition to smartphones, we might also see foldable tablets and laptops in the future.
Samsung Foldable Phones Will Likely Dominate The Market For The Next Couple Of Years
Samsung seems to be the only real player in the foldable market right now. Royole isn't a mainstream company and Huawei is plagued by internal problems. Samsung, on the other hand, is reportedly planning to introduce two foldable phones next year.
The first of those will most likely be a flip-style phone, a concept of which the company has teased already. Having a UTG covering on the top can help the tech conglomerate differentiate itself from other companies.
Samsung apparently wants to sell more foldable phones than analysts think consumers have the appetite for next year. And to reach this target, durability, and affordability are critical factors. Since the Galaxy Fold successor is expected in H1 2020, we can expect to hear more about it in the coming months.