Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Samsung’s working on a foldable phone, and it’ll launch in the near future.
Well, the mythical phone-that-transforms-into-a-tablet, is reportedly really coming next year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The device, codenamed “Winner” (cue the lulz!), reportedly has a 7-inch display diagonally and can fold in half like a wallet.
When it’s folded, the rear is said to have a “small display bar on the front” and cameras on the backside.
I’ve made a crude illustration based on the WSJ’s details. Might Samsung’s phone look something like this?
Samsung’s own flexible OLED displays are said to be crucial to the phone’s design. Unlike competitors who are also racing to launch a foldable phone, Samsung’s flexible displays would allow the phone to truly fold as opposed to simply being two screens connected together with a hinge.
The road to a consumer-ready foldable phone has been long and challenging from both a design and engineering perspective — it’s been years in the making.
Features like the foldable screen and the small display bar are likely to drive up the cost of the device. At the same time, these new innovations would also need more powerful chips, which would further increase costs.
It’s estimated the phone could cost as much as $1,500 or more when it’s released. That’d be quite a sum of cash to drop on a phone that simply folds in half.
The idea of a foldable phone is no doubt cool, but at a certain point, you have to stop and ask if they’re practical or not.
Last year, I made a strong case for why foldable phones are dead on arrival. TL;DR: All previous “foldable” phones failed and unless Samsung is able to solve the many design and engineering challenges that have hobbled progress so far, it’s foldable phone (the first version at least) will likely fail, too.
At the very least, if the WSJ’s sources are right, Samsung’s setting expectations for the foldable phone really low.
People familiar with the prototype device told them it’ll launch “on a smaller scale, targeting markets like mobile gamers.”
That’s probably a smart idea. Gamers usually tend to be early adopters who are willing to pay a premium for the latest innovations to push their entertainment to the next level. Gamers would also benefit from larger display. For example, there’d be more room for touchscreen controls.
How Samsung’s foldable tablet-phone shakes out is anybody’s guess. We won’t really know if it’s the future or complete garbage until it arrives.
Bixby smart speaker
In addition to details on the foldable phone, the WSJ also included new deets on Samsung’s rumored Bixby-powered smart speaker.
The speaker, which could cost up to $300, might be announced in August — possibly at the company’s Unpacked event in New York alongside the Galaxy Note 9.
Honestly, it sounds like a HomePod competitor especially since it could focus primarily on audio quality:
The speaker—internally code-named “Lux”—has a bowled shape, with a legged bottom and lights at the top, one of the people said. It will be marketed as a high-end music player and boast features like sound shifting, where the speaker’s audio can be beamed in the direction of a person providing verbal commands, the person said.
The only concern is if Bixby’s smarter than Siri. Because neither is as intelligent as the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.