Following earlier reports from CES about Samsung’s folding smartphone project, Korean media published stories that shed a little more light onto the long-awaited technology.
Reportedly, Samsung Display has shown prototypes of its foldable displays to clients (presumably, device manufacturers) during private meetings at CES 2018. Samsung is known to offer previews of its upcoming products, and the company has previewed foldable phone prototypes during MWC 2017 as well.
Citing industry sources, the Investor reports that Samsung Display showed two types of folding devices, both featuring 7.3-inch screens: “infolding” (with the screen on the inside) and “outfolding” (screen on the outside).
At 1R, the display can be folded like a sheet of paper
According to a report from ETNews, the infolding screen features a curvature radius of 1R, which means the display can be rolled around an imaginary cylinder with a radius of 1 millimeter. At 1R, the display can be folded like a sheet of paper, though the device itself will be thicker than that, so it can house the battery and other components. Having such a small curvature radius is essential to create a device that folds completely, without any gaps between the two display “sheets.”
Foldable screens need to be able to withstand the mechanical stress caused by constant folding and unfolding. This has been one of the key obstacles that have prevented the commercialization of foldable devices so far. Reportedly, Samsung has been working on enhancing the durability of the 1R display for up to 200,000 folding cycles, which should exceed the typical lifetime of a smartphone.
The outfolding model features a larger 5R curvature radius. Because the screen is on the outside of the phone, Samsung has been looking for ways to protect it from mechanical shocks, as well as normal and wear and tear. According to the Investor, the outfolding display technology is more advanced than the infolding one, and Samsung plans to commercialize infolding devices first.
Samsung Display is open to selling this technology to other clients besides Samsung Electronics, meaning that we might see foldable devices from a variety of OEMs in the future. “While Samsung was strict about who it was going to show foldable smartphones to at MWC 2017, it selected wide various customers at CES 2018 in order to observe reactions from various customers,” a source said.
Foldable devices are finally becoming a reality, but we’ll have to wait another year or so in order to buy them. Samsung CEO DJ Koh said this week “it is difficult to talk about the date of the launch now. We want to unveil the products properly but now seems a bit early.” Back in September Koh suggested Samsung aimed to bring folding devices to market in 2018.