Samsung Mobile CEO DJ Koh, has said it’s “time to deliver” a folding mobile phone.
Rumours of Samsung’s Galaxy X have been swirling for some time, but Koh suggests that the launch could be within a couple of months.
The company now seems certain that there’s enough demand for a folding phone. It has asked consumers and a device with a folding screen was clearly on their wishlists.
Although the construction of a device which can be folded in half is complicated Koh said that development on the concept was “nearly concluded”.
Koh also made it clear that the device will need to have a distinct purpose. In an interview with CNBC he said: “What kind of benefit does that [phone] give compared to the tablet? If the unfolded experience is the same as the tablet, why would they buy it?”.
Samsung has been working on the technology behind a folding phone for some time.
As far back as 2009 the company was demonstrating OLED screens that could bend and, as such, be useful in folding phones.
In 2013 the company demonstrated what future phones might look like.
A video played during Samsung’s Consumer Electronics Show keynote that year added more fuel to the rumour fire. A pair of devices were shown, a folding phone and a larger tablet.
The phone featured a clamshell design with a flexible hinge – like the one found on Microsoft’s Surface Book.
The outside had a screen and a larger, folded display was found on the inside. Leaks have since shown patents with clever hinge mechanisms that suggest this is what the device will look like.
Last year rumours picked up pace with leaks suggesting a new Samsung Galaxy X would arrive in 2018, but it now looks more likely that any folding phone will appear at Samsung’s developer conference in November.
A device probably won’t go on sale until at least 2019.
Folding phones aren’t just Samsung’s domain either. Apple has a patent on a similar idea that’s executed quite differently.
No doubt Samsung is hoping to create some growth in mobile devices.
CNBC also reports that sales are down 20 per cent year-on-year, presumably as customers hang on to phones for longer because of the cost to replace them and improved reliability.
The Galaxy X, or whatever Samsung’s folding phone ends up being called, will no doubt be expensive. The current flagship, the Note 9, costs up to £1,100 in its 512GB capacity.
The added complication of a folding mechanism and two screens could make the Galaxy X very expensive indeed.