Samsung Exec Holding A Mystery Smartphone, Possibly A Rollable One

Samsung Lee Jae yong smartphone
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Samsung's vice chairman Lee Jae-yong is expected to become the group's chairman. Last week, he met with top executives from all of its businesses at the company's Seoul R&D campus. In the photograph displayed above, the company's vice chairman was pictured holding a never-before-seen Samsung smartphone.

The device is clearly not as thick as the newly launched Galaxy Z Fold 2. Since current-gen foldable displays can't fold flat, this can't be one of those Galaxy devices. Moreover, none of the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy Note 20 smartphones are as thick as the device he is holding.

Samsung vice chairman spotted with an unreleased expandable smartphone?

There was also speculation from South Korean media that it is likely to be the company's first smartphone with an expandable display. It could have been the prototype device that can turn into a tablet to offer larger screen real estate. Interestingly, its South Korean counterpart had already teased the expandable device a couple of months earlier.

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Going by the leaks, LG will launch the Project B smartphone featuring an expandable display under the Explorer Project in March 2021. LG is also selling a rollable OLED TV for about $87,000 in South Korea. While Samsung is yet to launch any product featuring a rollable display, it has patented a couple of designs.

This could be the prototype Galaxy smartphone featuring an expandable display

The curved top edge looks similar to one of its patented designs from 2019. In that design, the device will be slimmer at the top than at the bottom. Unlike offering a tablet-like experience, the patented device's display only expands at the top, thus offering a taller screen. As of now, Samsung hasn't mentioned anything about the device used by its vice-chairman.

However, the company has plans to launch smartphones in new form factors. Reports from earlier this year hinted that Samsung had arranged private demos of a prototype expandable smartphone for its clients. During the annual SID event in 2017, the company also showcased a dynamic stretchable OLED display.

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It is a 9.1-inch display using LTPS technology and comes with an integrated multi-touch panel. Before Samsung commercially launches an expandable smartphone, the company should be coming up with more advanced UTG (Ultra-Thin Glass) protection for the foldables.

As seen with the foldables, even expandable smartphones will be limited to early adopters in their initial years. Without a large userbase, it's hard for developers to offer support for this new form factor which hinders the software experience in some way.