We'll soon see a foldable phone from Samsung. It might not be a consumer-ready version, but the South Korean company's serious about developing this technology. Samsung wants flexible OLED panels to become standard, and maybe there are foldable tablets and computers in the pipeline as well.
The technology appeared in smartphone-related patents already, but now it's surfacing in a tablet-related patent. Samsung was granted approval for a patent that shows a tablet folding into a smaller form factor.
It resembles what schematics from the other patents offer. Samsung might use a Surface-like hinge behind the flexible OLED panel for a smoother bend. In fact, the patent mentions Microsoft's favorite material — magnesium. Both ends of the display meet and stick to each other securely. There should be a magnetic holding them together.
Here's how a foldable tablet from Samsung might look, courtesy of LetsGoDigital:
Samsung described its foldable phone as a hybrid recently. In an interview, DJ Koh said there's versatility that allows that product to transition between phone and tablet as needed. While that's pretty vague, it looks like we'll still see a standalone tablet that's foldable.
Around 2015-2016, the SM-G929F was in development. The product, known internally as Project V, was a foldable phone but not based on the soon-to-be-announced technology. It used a traditional hinge to connect two displays that get stored on the front and back. From leaked images, Project V looked a lot like ZTE's Axon M that failed to achieve success.
Furthermore, Samsung's computer-making division confirmed its working on laptops with foldable displays. The form factor could enable "new value and user experience" while market trends shift. As hardware sales are sluggish for most companies, Samsung thinks flexible OLED panels can be the solution.
We'll see the foldable phone, or at least its technology, during the Samsung Developer Conference next month. Media and developers are joining Samsung for the event that runs November 7-8, so stay tuned for more information on this.