While foldable phones probably won't hit the mass market until 2019, Samsung may be prepared to unveil such a device in prototype form before the end of the year.
Korean outlet The Investor reports that Samsung has already placed orders for the components necessary for "2,000-3,000" prototype devices. The phones, reportedly part of its "Project Valley" endeavor to create a foldable handset, are referred in today's piece as "Galaxy X."
"The prototype that can be folded open 180 degrees reportedly features a pair of [OLED] panels that are connected with a hinge in the middle," the article says.
And that's a crucial detail: A true "foldable" phone of the type discussed by Samsung Display execs at a recent event would make use of a single foldable panel. The prototype in today's report would use two separate panels with a hinge, likely making use of the "bezel-less" AMOLED tech already used in the Galaxy S8. Slim bezels around the hinge would be important in reducing the visibility of the gap between the two sides.
"Samsung seems to be testing the waters with the dual-screen device to gather ideas about its upcoming foldable phone," The Investor's source is quoted as saying.
It's unclear whether these devices would actually go on sale. If Samsung did sell them, it's likely that, like the Galaxy Round of old, they'd have an extremely limited (likely Korea-only) release.
A true "foldable" smartphone — one with a single, seamless AMOLED screen, is the ultimate goal of the project. Even if this "Galaxy X" doesn't technically meet that standard, it'll be an important opportunity for Samsung to debut its work publicly, and build on feedback before any mass market launch.
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Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.