Samsung, LG, Huawei, and other companies have been working for years on technology that could be used in folding smartphones with flexible displays. The idea is that you could have a pocket-sized phone that you can hold in one hand… but unfold the device and you get a larger, tablet-sized display when you want it.
Rumor has it that Samsung might be ready to launch its first folding phone with a flexible display next year… but it won’t be cheap.
According to a report from the South China Morning Post, Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy X could cost as much as 2 million Korean South Korean Won, or about $1850.
Keep in mind that this report is based on an analyst estimate and not an official statement from Samsung. But given the years of R&D costs that have gone into developing this phone, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t expensive by modern smartphone standards… and we’re living in an age when $1,000 isn’t considered an unreasonable price for a high-end phone.
According to the SCMP, the Samsung Galaxy X is expected to have a 4.5 inch display when its folded in half and a 7.3 inch display when it’s opened, letting you use the same device as a phone or a tablet.
That said, as cool as a folding phone sounds, I’m kind of wondering if there’s a market for them anymore.
When Samsung and other phone makers started working on flexible display technology, most smartphones had 5.5 inch or smaller displays and tablets typically had 7-10 inch screens. These days we’re seeing a growing number of phones with screens that are already approaching 7 inches and almost nobody uses the word “phablet” to describe them anymore.
Phone screen sizes have been trending upward for years, but the recent push toward slimmer bezels has accelerated things a bit since it’s possible to put a larger panel into a phone without increasing the size of the handset. So I’m not really sure why you’d spend more than $1800 on a phone that has a 7.3 inch folding screen when you could buy a phone with a 6.6 inch display for a third of the price.
Then again, like most new technologies, it’s likely that the cost of folding phones will go down over time… if they survive. You can find 40 inch 4K TVs for around $300 these days. It seems like just yesterday that they sold for thousands of dollars.
So maybe the first-generation of folding phones will carry astronomical price tags, but later versions will become more affordable.
Or maybe the’ll be priced too high and offer too little benefit to sell at all… and phone makers will consider them a failed experiment. 4K TVs may be cheap these days. But 3D TVs never really got off the ground, and they’re all-but-nonexistent today.