Samsung has been rumoured to be working on a foldable phone for some time, and now it appears Apple wants to get in on the action.
A patent, filed on behalf of Apple in September last year, describes plans for a flexible display that could be fitted to a “laptop, tablet, telephone, wristwatch, or other electronic device.” The patent hasn’t been awarded, at the time of writing, but if it was successful, this could cause significant problems to Samsung, and ZTE which is also rumoured to be developing bendy phones.
Samsung’s folding phone has been nicknamed Samsung Galaxy X and earlier in November an official support page on Samsung’s site appeared to unveil its yet-to-be-announced revolutionary handset. The page, which was listed here before being taken down, used the same “SM-G888N0” model number that’s rumoured to be the Samsung Galaxy X.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the SM-G888N0 model number as it’s preivously been listed in a Korean National Radio Research Agency filing. However, this is the first time Samsung has made reference to it themselves.
We don’t know if the SM-G888N0 is actually the Samsung Galaxy X, but it’s believed it’s the foldable phone. We’ve also heard that Samsung is going to be revealing the Galaxy X at CES 2018. The news was confirmed when Samsung’s president of mobile business, Koh Dong-Jin, said Samsung would unveil its foldable smartphone next year. Dong-Jin also revealed the foldable smartphone would launch under the Note brand, according to Bloomberg.
It’s also reported that this foldable phone will be a limited-run, South Korean exclusive. This means that only 100,000 units will be developed and Samsung’s home nation will run as the testbed for the new technology. You can think of it in a similar way to how the original Note Edge landed in South Korea before the rest of the world.
It’s clearly not just a rumour either as Forbes reports the SM-G888N0 has shown up on the approvals list of the National Radio Research Agency – a regulatory body that works like the FCC in the US. The SM-G888N0 previously appeared on filings for Bluetooth certification and Wi-Fi certification too.
The NRRA filing doesn’t provide any insight into what the Samsung Galaxy X, or SM-G888N0, can actually do. We know from patent designs and concepts that it’s a foldable phone and tablet hybrid, but it’s not yet known exactly how it’ll work. Samsung has already proven it can create both curved and bendable screens, but a truly foldable one hasn’t been demonstrated in public.
Although, in 2014, Samsung did release a truly cringe-worthy video about a flexible phone and tablet concept.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Samsung wanting to shift its popular phablet range of Note devices into something new. It was host to the first “Edge” screens before they trickled down to the standard Galaxy devices, and so using the Note to showcase Samsung’s newest flagship display technology makes sense.
Some rumours suggest that the Samsung Galaxy X will be shown this year, but it’s hard to believe that’s going to be the case. Not only has the Note 8 just arrived on the market, but with Apple’s new iPhones and the new Google Pixel 2 now here – it’s too crowded a market for Samsung’s announcement to make a real impact.
The next logical stage for a Samsung Galaxy X showcase would be at CES in January. Even if the SM-G888N0 is restricted to a South Korean-only release, the world stage that CES offers would be perfect for gauging interest in a foldable smartphone in the global market.
Everything we know about the Samsung Galaxy X
Samsung Galaxy X: At a glance
- Foldable screen anticipated
- Launch date expected mid-2018
- Limited output expected (100,000 handsets)
- South Korea-only release
Samsung Galaxy X: Release date
It’s anticipated Samsung will begin production of the Galaxy X in the last quarter of 2017. Given the unprecedented phone’s potentially divisive idiosyncrasies, it’s reported that Samsung will release only a (relatively) small number of the handsets, expected to be in the region of 100,000. This constitutes a way of testing the proverbial water, ensuring that there is ample – not to mention profitable – public demand for such an alien device.
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The next logical stage for a Samsung Galaxy X showcase would be at CES in January. Even if the SM-G888N0 is restricted to a South Korean-only release, the world stage that CES offers would be perfect for gauging interest in a foldable smartphone in the global market. The Galaxy Note Edge was, initially, a South Korean-only device but it proved popular enough for edge-to-edge displays being so popular they’re appearing on the new iPhone X.
That being said, don’t bank on getting your mitts on a Galaxy X come the new year. Patently Apple has doubts, explaining that supply contracts for panels are usually prepared a year in advance. Given that Samsung aimed to gauge commercial interest for the Galaxy X at the recent MWC, this suggests that the phone most likely won’t be available right at the start of 2018, at least not en masse.
Samsung Galaxy X: Design
Back in July 2016, Patently Mobile released several sets of images illustrating Samsung’s foldable phone and tablet concepts. While they’ve restricted fellow tech sites from borrowing more than one image set at a time (see below), a full range of images can be found here.
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More recently, in November, SamMobile released images it suggested could be “our closest look” at the Galaxy X via Dutch site GalaxyClub. The images show a hinged device, not unlike that of Microsoft’s Surface Book, suggesting that it might sport a similar small cavity when folded over. Nonetheless, it’s an unprecedented piece of smartphone technology.
So why make it foldable? The recent big trend in smartphones has been curved edge displays; the Samsung S8 typifies that current mode – and it’s anticipated that the imminent iPhone 8 will sport the sleek design, too. Sprawling screens are the order of the day, so it makes sense to push display capabilities to their limits, with faces that can bend and stretch.
Samsung isn’t alone in testing foldable screen technology. Apple has reportedly procured a patent for a foldable smartphone in November last year. Lenovo and LG have also been deemed forerunners in the unlikely quest for foldable phones. Samsung might just clinch the first major product, however. So what do we know about the Galaxy X? Keep reading to find out all the rumours, news and specs.
Samsung Galaxy X: Features
Whilst the Galaxy X wasn’t launched per se at MWC 2017, word on the street was that selected press and partners were permitted a sneaky peak of the device. All very hush-hush, of course.
Nonetheless, rumours began circulating shortly thereafter, with a Super AMOLED display with flexible capabilities expected to be the Galaxy X’s defining feature. Further details suggested that the Galaxy X will offer a 5in display that can be folded outwards, transforming the smartphone into a 7in miniature tablet.
All this makes us reminiscent of the days of 2010 when critics snubbed Samsung’s original Galaxy Note, deeming its 5.3in screen too big. Fast-forward a few years and you’ll see that big, beautiful screens are a spec du jour. A 5.3in screen might even seem paltry to some, with the ill-fated Note 7 sporting a monstrous 5.7in display. The extendable/contractible feature on the Galaxy X might just broaden Samsung’s audience appeal: from the clammy grasper favouring an easy-to-hold phone, to the wide-eyed tablet enthusiast, it’s got dimensions for everyone, and they’re adaptable to boot.
Samsung Galaxy X: How likely is it?
SamMobile reckons that the Galaxy Note 8 might not be the first Samsung smartphone to feature a dual-camera setup, deeming their source “a reliable tipster” (see tweet below). Speculation as to whether the first dual-camera Samsung smartphone may in fact be the Samsung Galaxy X persists. Rumours abounded that the Galaxy X was debuted during a top-secret demo at Mobile World Congress back in February.
Even more tantalisingly, there’s an unnamed Samsung handset being passed through the Bluetooth device regulatory body. Its model number – SM-G888NO – doesn’t give masses away, but we’re holding out hope that the foldable smartphone is in development.
Indeed, we know Samsung has filed a trademark for the Galaxy X brand with South Korea’s Intellectual Property Rights Information Service (KIPRIS). South Korea being, of course, the home of the Samsung brand. This is coupled with patents and leaked designs of bendable screen technology, all of which points towards the Samsung Galaxy X becoming the company’s first foldable phone.
We will update this page as and when we get more information on the Samsung Galaxy X.
Images: Jamie McCall used under Creative Commons, Patently Mobile and SamMobile via GalaxyClub.
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