Samsung is tipped to be creating a phone with a foldable screen, and having recently passed certification and now popped up on Samsung's support site it could be much closer to completion than we expected. Bloomberg says the company plans to announce a foldable phone under its Note brand in 2018, and insiders suggest the technology was on show behind closed doors at January's CES 2018 tradeshow. Could this be the Galaxy Note X, a fierce competitor to the newly announced iPhone X?
If you're not quite sure what we mean by a foldable phone (and why would you be?), check out the concept video from TechConfigurations at the top of this story. We'll also explain in more detail below.
What is a foldable phone?
A foldable phone is exactly as it sounds, one that either folds inward (like a clamshell phone) or outward and reveals a tablet-like device when stretched out. This is possible with the use of a bendable (rather than flexible, as seen in the Galaxy S7 edge) OLED panel.
Samsung, Lenovo and LG have each showed off bendable displays and devices at various industry events, and have registered many patents for the technology. Previously called Project Valley, Samsung’s technology has become known as the Samsung Galaxy X, which may or may not be its eventual name upon release.
Samsung originally worked on fold-in phones, which close up like a wallet, but having completed its work there it has moved on to fold-out phones. These should be more convenient for the user, who wouldn’t need to unfold the phone every time they wanted to use it.
The Samsung Galaxy X was originally rumoured to be a 5in phone that could fold out into an 8in tablet, but it’s now suspected to fold out into a 7in tablet. It’s indeed possible that there will actually be two Samsung foldable phones released.
According to rumours the screen resolution is expected to be 4K (3840x2160 pixels), ensuring that it remains high-res when folded. The Galaxy X could also feature a dual-camera at the rear, and one of the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon processors - most likely now the Snapdragon 835. There should be a microSD card slot, but the battery will not be removable.
A patent application filed by Samsung in late 2016 shows some renders of what the eventual Galaxy X may look like (via Sammobile):
When is the Samsung Galaxy Note X release date?
Bloomberg reports that a foldable smartphone will debut under the Note brand in 2018. Koh Dong-jin, president of mobile business at Samsung Electronics, said: "As the head of the business, I can say our current goal is next year. When we can overcome some problems for sure, we will launch the product."
A device with the model name SM-G888N0 (previously rumoured to be the Galaxy X) has recently passed through Bluetooth SIG, the certification body that regulates Bluetooth device standards. The same model has also been certified for Wi-Fi by the Wi-Fi Alliance, and has passed through the National Radio Research Agency, which is Korea's version of the US FCC.
However, it now seems the SM-G888N0 is in fact a rugged phone rather than a futuristic device with a flexible display. We can hope for a glimpse of it as CES 2018 but this may be a pipe dream.
Yet another report claims the phone might go into small-scale production in Q4 2017, ahead of an 'H2 2018 “clam-type” mass production blastoff'.
However, Samsung Display Engineer Kim Tae-woong claims the techology is not expected to mature until 2019.
A year ago Sammobile reported that Project Valley would not be available globally at launch, but that the UK and Ireland, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Nordic countries, France and Poland were on the list.
It appears that the Note X will be more difficult to get hold of than we expected, however.
For months, we've been hearing fairly frequent rumours about the Samsung Galaxy X, a smartphone that will feature a folding display. The idea is that you’ll be able to use it as a smartphone, and then fold it out to full tablet size, creating a whole new mobile segment that mirrors the tablet-laptop 2-in-1 hybrids we’ve already seen from the computing industry.
But the bad news is that Samsung’s quirky folding phone might be tough to bag, with Forbes stating that “the expectation for the Galaxy X is as a limited-run device in a single territory - more than likely the home territory of South Korea”. Adding that it will be one of the rarest phones in 2018.