Samsung finally showed a public prototype of a foldable smartphone that can open like a book so people can access a bigger display screen, comparable to a tablet.
Samsung Electronics America senior vice president and general manager Justin Denison revealed the long-anticipated foldable smartphone with “Infinity Flex Display” on Wednesday during the company’s annual developer conference in San Francisco, Calif.
Although the device that Denison showed to the crowd of coders appeared much more bulky than a conventional smartphone, he said that the actual smartphone was encased in an enclosure to obscure the device’s true design, which will presumably be revealed at a later a date.
“There is a device in here and it is stunning,” Denison said.
The smartphone prototype that the executive showed off appears to have two display screens, with the smaller screen residing on the front, akin to a typical smartphone. Denison then opened the smartphone like a magazine, which revealed the larger screen with the ability to fold out to a “full seven inches,” he said.
The smartphone also works with Samsung’s revamped smartphone user interface, dubbed One UI, that was designed to work with the device’s multiple screens. If a person opens a certain app using the smaller screen on the front of the smartphone, that same app should appear on the larger screen when the person unfolds the phone.
Denison said that the device can run three mobile apps at once.
It’s unclear how thick the smartphone will be when it finally goes on sale, which Denison did not reveal. A bulky smartphone with significant girth would likely turn off consumers who don’t want to over stuff their pockets or carry an uncomfortable device.
But, Denison said that the device’s screen “had to be thinner than any other,” implying that Samsung is trying to minimize any amount of excess bulk it can from the smartphone.
Samsung is hoping that a foldable smartphone captures the imagination of the public and reinvigorates the slumping smartphone market that’s yet to experience the kind of innovative leaps since Apple first debuted the iPhone in 2007.
Consumers are unlikely to want to buy a foldable smartphone if there are no compelling apps that take advantage of the multiple, expanding screens. That’s likely why Samsung partnered with Google to ensure that the popular Android mobile operating system works well with devices with foldable screens.
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Glenn Murphy, a Google Android and Chrome executive, took the stage to announce the search giant’s support of Samsung’s foldable smartphones. Murphy said Google’s Android team is working with Samsung to ensure that apps can work smoothly on the device.
Although Denison did not release pricing details, he said the Samsung “will be ready to start mass production in the coming months,” although it was unclear if he was referring to the foldable display screens or the actual smartphones.