Samsung to Make Hybrid Foldable Smartphone That Unfolds Into a 7-inch Tablet

foldable smartphone

For quite some time now we’ve been reporting the fact that Samsung is developing a foldable smartphone called the Galaxy X. More information has been made available now, and we know that the South Korean company is definitely working on a foldable device that can be used as a smartphone when folded, but actually unfolds into a 7-inch tablet.

According to a recent report in Korea Herald, Samsung is working on releasing such devices during the third quarter of 2017. It’s likely they’re looking for a launch date around the time when iPhone 8 will be launched, possibly earlier. Korea Herald’s source also told them that the company intends to “roll out more than 100,000 units of the fold-out devices” during that period.

The original plan was to design a smartphone with the screen on the inside when folded. However, in August 2016, Samsung reportedly changed their plans after deeming that users would not find it convenient to keep opening up the device when they wanted to use the phone. That’s when the hybrid design started taking shape.

According to the source:

“Since the company already secured fold-in phone technology, it was not a big challenge to shift into the fold-out phones.”

The original information about a foldable smartphone came when Samsung’s patent application was published last year, and you can see our full report on that here.

Incidentally, one source also mentioned that LG has also been working on foldable device technology for the past two years or more, and intends to launch 100,000 units of its own range of foldable devices during the fourth quarter of 2017. Interestingly, LG may actually produce foldable components for smartphone makers such as Apple and Huawei, but exact timelines aren’t known.

According to market research firm Strategy Analytics, Samsung may be the one to unveil the world’s first foldable smartphone/tablet device this year, and the market size for foldable devices is expected to hit 2.7 million units for 2017, going up to 163 million by 2022.

Meanwhile, other sources say that Samsung may not be ready to launch its foldable devices this year “because of marketability and profitability issues.” The final decision will only be taken after the executive re-shuffle, which has been postponed from December 2016 to February or March this year because of political scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil.

Whatever the outcome, we now know that Samsung and LG are lead contenders in the move towards foldable mobile devices. They already have the folding display panel critical to this move, and both could be looking at a 2017 launch.

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