Lenovo launched the ThinkPad X1 Fold last month as the world’s first foldable PC. It is a 13-inch OLED laptop screen that can be folded at various angles and used as a miniature laptop with a touchscreen keyboard on the bottom half of the screen. Now, renowned global IT giants – Samsung, Intel, and Microsoft – are teaming up to commercialize such foldable laptops.
According to a recent report from Korean publication ETNews, the three companies have already begun work on this project. The laptops are reportedly based on Intel’s “Horseshoe Bend” concept. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold also employs a similar concept, though it’s Lenovo’s own.
Interestingly, both the companies first introduced their respective concepts at CES 2020 in January. Moreover, they both feature an Intel processor. While Intel’s version gets the 10nm Tiger Lake architecture, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold includes Lakefield processors.
Intel’s design is also bigger than that of Lenovo’s. It’s a 17-inch folding device that folds into a 13-inch laptop. Samsung and BOE will reportedly supply flexible OLED panels for this product. While Intel will expectedly provide the processor, Microsoft will work on the operating system adapted for this form factor.
The three companies will jointly develop standardized products and supply them to third-party manufacturers such as Lenovo, Dell, HP, and Samsung itself. The remaining elements of the laptops will be open for them to innovate on.
Foldable laptops are starting to get real
After a pioneering work on foldable smartphones, Samsung is now joining forces with two IT biggies to develop foldable laptops. And this isn’t an entirely new plan. The South Korean conglomerate has been working on this new form factor for laptops for years.
“Like foldable smartphones, Samsung is collaborating with display makers to develop laptops with foldable displays that will not just simply fold in and out but create new value and user experience, amid the changing market trends for laptops,” Lee Min-Cheol, Samsung’s vice president of marketing for PCs, had told the media back in October 2018.
An industry insider who is familiar with the Horseshoe Bend project told ETNews that flexible screens for foldable laptops are expected to go into mass-production at the end of 2021. Going by this timeline, we might see Samsung and other OEMs coming up with their versions of such products in the first half of 2022.
Microsoft will probably be ready with Windows 10X by then. Originally planned for dual-screen or folding devices, Microsoft revealed earlier this year that the new software is being reworked for single-screen devices.