Samsung has teased the idea of a foldable smartphone with a flexible display for years, but the company may finally come good on the concept this November.
With Huawei also gunning to be first with a foldable phone, Samsung mobile’s president DJ Koh in August said it wasn’t OK with idea of losing the “world’s-first title” to its fast-growing Chinese rival, which is now the world’s second-largest smartphone maker.
Samsung’s timeline on a foldable smartphone has shifted since it first floated the idea in 2016. Last year it said the foldable phone — sometimes referred to as the Galaxy F — would be unveiled in 2018, but subsequently delayed the date to 2019.
But Koh has now told CNBC that the phone could be unveiled in November. The problem for consumers keen on buying one is that it will be unveiled at the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco, so it could still be some time before it’s available to the public.
However, unveiling the device at the conference would still give Samsung the right to claim it had launched the world’s first foldable phone.
Koh said “it’s time to deliver” a foldable phone after Samsung’s consumer surveys showed there is an appetite for such a device. He added that making these devices would be complicated but that Samsung had “nearly concluded” the process.
Koh doesn’t reveal any specifics of the design or functionality. However, when asked why consumers would want the device if in its unfolded state the experience was the same as a tablet, he said the company needs to come up with a design that makes people think, “Wow, this is the reason Samsung made it.”
The other question is price. Some analysts expect the phone will cost about $1,850 retail based on the assumption it will have a 7.3-inch OLED screen when open, and a 4.5-inch screen when folded.
Samsung is under pressure to make a phone that stands out, as worldwide sales continue to fall at the same time as Chinese vendors Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo gain market share by bringing premium features to lower-priced phones.
Following soft sales of the Galaxy S9, the company this week revealed it would look to polish up its mid-tier range by delivering new innovations to them first as well as accelerating that tier’s release cycle to more than once per year.