Samsung Hopes To Finally Release Its Fabled, Foldable Smartphone

September 12, 2017, 8:23 AM UTC

Samsung said Tuesday it will probably bring out a foldable Galaxy Note smartphone in 2018.

If you think you’ve heard this prediction before, you’re not wrong. Samsung showed off a prototype flexible smartphone screen in a 2013 video. In 2015, tipsters said the foldable phone was coming in January 2016. In 2016, anonymous sources pointed repeatedly to a 2017 release.

However, this time the prediction comes from the horse’s mouth. According to an Associated Press report, Samsung mobile chief told reporters that a Galaxy Note phone with a bendable screen will be coming out in 2018. Maybe.

“As the head of the business, I can say our current goal is next year,” Koh was quoted as saying. “When we can overcome some problems for sure, we will launch the product.”

What are those problems? He apparently didn’t say, but experts have pointed out several potential issues with the concept of this sort of flexible display.

Screens contain a lot of components, and manufacturers of flexible screens need to find a way to avoid gradually tearing their connections as users subject them to stress. The screens need to maintain their vivid colors, which they can’t do if a thin protective layer—as opposed to thicker, rigid glass—lets through water vapor and oxygen. And then there’s the issue of making all this work in a mass-production context, when plastics are so hard to work with at this level of precision.

None of which is to say that a foldable smartphone isn’t possible—it just explains why it’s taking so much time to get right.

According to the AP piece, Koh also said Samsung is working on an “artificial intelligence” enabled speaker, to compete with those being sold by Amazon and Google. He was speaking at the domestic launch of the Galaxy Note 8.

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