Samsung unveils sneak peek of its first foldable smartphone

By Song Su-hyun

‘Tech titan’s fate is dependent on success of the foldable phone next year’ says Samsung executive

  • Published : Nov 8, 2018 - 15:57
  • Updated : Nov 8, 2018 - 15:57

Samsung Electronics on Thursday revealed technological details of its first foldable display for next-generation smartphones at a conference in San Francisco for technology developers from around the world.

The South Korean tech titan unveiled a prototype of a foldable smartphone featuring the Infinity Flex Display during the two-day Samsung Developer Conference. When it is unfolded, the as-of-yet-unnamed smartphone is 7.3 inches, and 4.58 inches when folded in half.

The prototype looked as if two smartphones were attached using in-folding technology. While the cover display has a screen ratio of 21:9, the main display has a 4.2:3 ratio, the company said.

When folded in half, the next-generation smartphone would be smaller than existing 6-inch phones, it added.

Samsung called the Infinity Flex Display “a breakthrough foldable smartphone form factor,” introducing the new display together with a new intuitive interface design called One UI that is aimed at allowing the user to better focus and quickly navigate the phone whether it is folded or unfolded. 
Samsung Electronics President Koh Dong-jin speaks at the Samsung Developer Conference, where the company unveiled the display of its first foldable smartphone in San Francisco on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

“The Infinity Flex Display together with One UI delivers a new kind of mobile experience allowing users to do things they couldn’t do with an ordinary smartphone,” Samsung said in a press release. “Users now have the best of both worlds: a compact smartphone that unfolds to reveal a larger immersive display for multitasking and viewing content.”

In the development of foldable smartphones, the seamless transition of application experience from the smaller display to the larger main display is key, according to Samsung. 

A Samsung executive shows a foldable display at SDC 2018 on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

Therefore, the tech mogul joined hands with Google and the Android developer community to start the development of foldable phone apps from the beginning, it said.

To invite more app developers, Samsung and Google unveiled guidelines for app development on Wednesday, and are planning to announce the emulator within the fourth quarter.

Samsung’s revelation of the foldable display and UX comes at a time of flagging smartphone sales. The company hopes to achieve a breakthrough and overcome stalled growth of the smartphone business.

Its smartphone division achieved 2.22 trillion won ($1.99 billion) in third-quarter operating profit due to sluggish sales of flagship models, down about 33 percent from the previous quarter.

“Due to the saturation in the global smartphone market, the smartphone business is slowing further,” said a Samsung executive. “The company’s fate is dependent on the success of the foldable phone next year.”

However, Samsung did not comment on the schedule of the launch and the official name of the foldable phone.

By Song Su-hyun (