Samsung's foldable Galaxy F phone set to lift some-more questions than answers

Samsung’s Bixby sidekick may get tip billing during a electronic giant’s annual developer conference on Wednesday, yet its first foldable phone, rumored to be called a Galaxy F, is staid to take Bixby’s thunder. If anything, Samsung is decoration expectations that a foldable phone will make an appearance, even changing a trademark to mimic a shape of a folding phone. But don’t pattern a normal proclamation like a company’s vast Galaxy S9 and Note 9 unveilings. Instead, column yourself for a hide demeanour during a phone Samsung hopes will be a subsequent vast thing.

For Samsung, a foldable phone phenomenon comes during a time when a mobile universe thirsts for innovation. Apple and Samsung sales are slowing down, and a tellurian handset marketplace is pronounced to be “in recession.” Foldable phones would play a wow cause into this stalling space, where even this year’s headliners, from a Galaxy S9 to a iPhone XS, change usually incrementally from 2017′s best models. As many as radical new pattern would shake adult a flagging industry, it also raises questions about a design’s usefulness, and how simply it could eventuality into gimmick territory. 

Samsung isn’t alone in posterior a foldable phone. LG and Huawei are building prototypes of their own, and one brand, Royole, has already come out with a all-plastic FlexPai, that likewise folds up. 


“Possibly when we start offered a foldable phone, it competence be a niche market, yet definitely, it will expand,” Samsung mobile arch DJ Koh told CNET in an Oct interview. “I’m certain that we do need a foldable phone.”

Samsung Developer Conference 2018: Here’s how to watch

“Need” is a clever word for any new device category, yet phone-makers and pundits determine on one pivotal benefit: some-more shade space. A foldable phone radically doubles your accessible aspect area. 

It could demeanour like dual phones firm by a executive hinge, or like a inscription hold in landscape mode that folds sealed like a book. Done right, we get a arrangement a distance of a inscription that we can lift around like a big, thick handset.

The pattern engenders news ways to use a phone. You competence exhibit it to play games and watch videos on a incomparable canvas. Or, we competence apart a shade hemispheres into apart panes for improved multitasking. 

For example, one arrangement could turn a unsentimental keyboard, while a other shaped a combination window. Or, we could counterpart a calm on both screens and watch a same video shave opposite a list from a friend. And a phone that folds can column itself adult while we watch movies, no box needed. Like a beginning attempts during dual-screen phones, a Holy Grail of larger shade aspect promises abounding possibility.

ZTE paved a approach with a Axon M.

Sarah McDermott/CNET

There’s small doubt that a participation of a foldable shade in some executive’s palm — we put my income on Koh — will lift some-more questions than answers. Is it gentle and unsentimental to use, or usually a gimmick? Will it be remotely affordable? What will keep it from fiery out like a “foldable” ZTE Axon M?

Assuming that Samsung does exhibit a long-anticipated foldable phone, don’t pattern to get some-more than a glance and a few deceptive details. The Galaxy F, apparently code-named Winner, isn’t approaching to land until early 2019. 

Samsung will expected use this eventuality to glow adult developers and phone fans. After all, this is still a developer discussion and Samsung’s arch idea will be to get app writers committed to make their programs work with a new, folding display.

“The foldable device is some-more of a height than a product release,” pronounced Wayne Lam, principal researcher with IHS Markit. “Foldable inclination will have opposite user knowledge and interface. Android is usually unequivocally grown for a singular mobile display.”

Is a destiny of phones foldable?

As these powerful, unstable computers continue to turn a heart of people’s lives, phone-makers have struggled to boost shade distance yet creation a device itself too vast and complicated to lift in a slot or purse. 


A foldable phone could demeanour like dual screens hold together by a hinge, or a like plain arrangement that creases when we overlay it.


The stream trend of timorous bezels and augmenting shade distance is a proxy repair that a foldable phone could potentially replace. But creation dual screens overlay in on any other is easier pronounced than done. A shade that can hook and flex is one thing — Samsung and LG initial made “curved” screens in 2013 and 2014, respectively — yet a phones themselves didn’t bend. 

Making a physique of a device overlay is a plea on a many bigger scale: Batteries and components are rigid, and changeable a battery to one side can make a phone feel imbalanced. Besides that, stretchable screens have been in a works for years, yet skinny potion can have a focussed to mangle some-more easily, generally when focussed hundreds of thousands of times in a device’s lifetime.

Royole’s FlexPai solves a shade coherence emanate by regulating cosmetic instead of potion to cover a OLED display. Plastic isn’t a renouned element these days, generally when we cruise a cost tab (the FlexPai developer models starts during $1,588). Royole put a battery on a right side, and pronounced it offset out a left with a other components. A rubberized hinge controls flexion on a back. 

Read: Samsung mobile CEO: Our foldable phone will be a tablet you can put in your pocket

Despite pattern challenges, formulating a bendable phone is a risk Samsung contingency take. Being a initial vital actor to uncover off a foldable phone could assistance Samsung keep a balance while declining smartphone sales make a hardware titan exposed to the advance of a opposition Huawei. The Galaxy F would also give Samsung a halo, aspirational product, like Ford’s GT supercar or Nokia’s oppulance Vertu phones. Volume sales aren’t a name of a diversion here, yet capturing courtesy is.


Samsung’s had stretchable screens down pat for years. That isn’t adequate to make a phone truly foldable.

Josh Miller/CNET

“Does a courtesy need to pierce to foldable? No, yet it does open adult new hybrid device category,” Lam said, referring to a difficulty that spans phones and tablets. (Note that a tenure “phablet” was coined in response to a Galaxy Note for a really same reason.)

Samsung’s plea is to see that a confidant new designs don’t explode and bomb. The association took a risk with a Galaxy Note series, and it eventually paid off. Despite a severe start, Note is now an determined code with a constant following, and a jumbo shade phone pattern it pioneered is now a courtesy standard. However, 2013′s Korea-only Galaxy Round, a world’s initial phone with a winding screen, was a sales flop, even yet it led to a curved-edge Galaxy phones we take for postulated today.

The Galaxy F is rumored to have a 7.3-inch display, a china finish and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8150 processor. It’s pronounced to have 512GB inner storage, with support for a microSD card.

“The cost indicate for this record will be really high,” Lam said. “It will be years before a consumer-grade chronicle is accessible during a right price.”

At this early stage, it’s best to support a Galaxy F, and any first-wave foldable phone, as a stepping mill to a device we competence one day want, rather than a one we need right now.

Samsung did not respond to a ask for comment.

Article initial published Nov. 6 during 4 a.m. PT and updated many recently on Nov. 7 during 4:30 a.m. PT with some-more details.

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