Samsung’s long-rumored Galaxy X foldable phone has leaked, thanks to designs submitted to the Korean Intellectual Property Office and uncovered by LetsGoDigital. It’s not clear if this is the final design for the phone because of course, Samsung can submit anything for patent protection, but it does seem logical that the final SM-G888 would look something like these sketches. The idea being that the phone contains a hinge, bendable (foldable is a misnomer, it will be curved when closed, as the hinge image shows) display and operates much like any existing smartphone.
The rumor is also that this phone will get launched ahead of the Galaxy S9. That might mean it’s introduced at CES, or it could be the device Samsung unveils at MWC in Barcelona. Either way, the goal seems to be to have it on the market before the S9 appears at Samsung’s later, yearly, Unpacked event.
The goal for Samsung seems to be getting back to the much-loved flip phone design that was popular before smartphone roared onto the scene with their fancy touchscreens. If Samsung can make a phone with decent screen real estate and one which can be folded in half, it would probably attract a lot of attention, and may well appeal to people who think modern phones are too big.
The design is certainly interesting. The screen is on the inside, with a hinge that allows the phone to fold open. The idea, clearly, is that it will operate like any existing smartphone. The screen, if Samsung has managed to make the design work, should be a single OLED panel. As I’ve pointed out before, Samsung has been working on this tech for basically a decade now.
OLEDs have always had some flexibility anyway, which is why they’ve been used on LG’s G Flex phones, which you could bend a small amount and Samsung’s own curved edge devices. The big problem is not so much developing a screen that bends, but making it so that it can be bent hundreds of thousands of times without breaking, or wearing in a way that spoils the screen quality.
And of course, the hinge that supports the folding needs to be a pretty clever piece of design too. A snap hinge won’t work, because you can’t “crease” an OLED, instead it needs to keep a curve to the screen to prevent it becoming damaged.