Samsung’s been working for years on a foldable smartphone with a flexible display for years. The idea is that you’d be able to a single device as a pocket-sized smartphone, or open it up to use it as a tablet with a larger screen.

Now the Wall Street Journal reports that the phone could launch “early next year.”

Samsung flexible phone concept (from a patent application)

According to the newspaper’s sources, the latest prototype features a 7 inch flexible display and a design that lets you fold the phone in half “like a wallet” so that a secondary, smaller screen is visible on the front of the device and cameras are accessible on the back.

Apparently code-named “Winner,” rumor has it that the phone will be branded as the Samsung Galaxy X… or something like that.

Other companies including LG and HTC are also said to be working on folding smartphones, and Microsoft may or may not be planning to launch a Windows-powered device with a folding display.

So far the closest we’ve seen are dual-screen devices like the ZTE Axon M smartphone or its predecessor, the Kyocera Echo, as well as laptop-style devices including the Toshiba Libretto W100, and the upcoming Lenovo Yoga Book 2 and Asus Project Precog. B

ut since those products all feature two screens rather than a single foldable display, users will notice a seam between the two displays. Samsung’s “Winner” device is said to feature a single seamless display when used in tablet mode.

While Samsung and other companies are obviously hoping foldable phones could breathe new life into a smartphone market that has started to plateau, the first devices are expected to be very, very expensive… potentially costing as much as $1850 (The WSJ report says the price tag “could easily surpass $1,500”).

A phone that makes the iPhone X look cheap probably wouldn’t be a best-seller right away. So The WSJ says Samsung plans to do a small scale launch in early 2019 before ramping up production later in the year only if the company determines that there’s sufficient demand to justify increasing the supply.

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2 replies on “WSJ: Samsung’s folding-display smartphone coming in 2019”

  1. Best use of a foldable display would be to bend the main display around the bottom of the phone, and go maybe 2/3 of the way up the back.

    The electronics (obviously) treats it as one display. Not much change there.

    But the software treats it as three- the front being the main display (as normal), the rear being a viewfinder for selfies and video chats (so you no longer need a front camera – bye bye notches, bezels and holes), and the bottom edge being an always on array of status indicators.

    That would be fantastic Imho. Much better than having something that actually folds – I just can’t see the stresses put on the fold not causing excessive wear and tear,

  2. > 7 inch flexible display

    I’m saying this as a fan of large displays: presumably a part of Samsung’s target market. A non-foldable 7″ at 16:10 would be a huge hit with me. I have little interest in a 7″ display that folds downward. I wouldn’t mind a 7″ display that *unfolds* upward to a larger size if they could manage the weight.

    Samsung started a trend way back with their larger screen sizes, which included the “Mega”. They have since been treating Mega-style phones like big-screen TVs. I. Am. Disappoint.

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