On the same day Apple announced its revolutionary new iPhone X, Samsung’s mobile business chief DJ Koh teased a smartphone with a foldable display. He told Bloomberg the ‘folding phone’ would launch next year. However, he added, Samsung is yet to overcome a few problems that could impact its release date. A foldable Samsung phone referred to as Galaxy X has been in the rumor mill for more than a year. The Galaxy X rumors intensified further after DJ Koh’s comments.
Galaxy X gets approval from different regulators
If the Galaxy X rumors persist, they could seriously affect the sales of the upcoming Galaxy S9, which is only a few months away. Samsung holds several patents related to the foldable screen technology. In fact, it even showcased a prototype foldable phone called Youm at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2013. Recent leaks and Samsung’s patents suggest that users will be able to fold the device inward.
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The folding phone’s recent appearances on different authority sites indicate that it is nearing completion. Only a few days ago, a device with model number SM-G888N0 was certified by the National Radio Research Agency (NRRA), the Korean equivalent of the FCC in the US. This model number has been linked to the Galaxy X many times in the past. The “N0” in the model number denotes that it’s the South Korean model of the handset.
The same model number had received Bluetooth certification from the Bluetooth SIG in July. It had also made an appearance on the WiFi Alliance, where it was described as a “smartphone.” Leaks from last year claim that Samsung had been working on the Galaxy X under the Project Valley. At the time, the device was said to have a 5-inch display with 4K resolution.
Amid all the Galaxy X rumors, Korean media claims that the Galaxy S9 would look similar to the Galaxy S8, which was released earlier this year. The Galaxy S line is a well-established premium smartphone brand. However, consumers are more likely to be excited about a foldable phone than a device that looks similar to its predecessor, if they both are coming around the same time.
Consumers to be more excited about the Galaxy X than Galaxy S9
The Galaxy S9 will get an improved dual camera setup capable of recording 1080p slo-mo videos at 1000fps, about four times higher than Apple’s iPhone X. It would also run a more powerful Snapdragon 845 chipset. However, it will have the same curved display as the Galaxy S8. And it will have the same rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. From a customer’s perspective, the Galaxy X looks more exciting than the Galaxy S9. So, the Galaxy X rumors could prompt some potential buyers to hold on to their current phones until the revolutionary folding phone hits the store shelves.
Samsung has one of the widest ranges of flagship smartphones in the world. It refreshes the Galaxy S line in the first half of the year and brings a new Galaxy Note device in the second half. The Korean company has to ensure that the Galaxy S9 remains popular. Unlike Apple, which launched the revolutionary iPhone X alongside the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, Samsung could take a different approach.
Samsung knows how to pull it off
Forbes contributor Ewan Spence speculates that Samsung could follow the same pattern as the Galaxy Note Edge. The Note Edge with a one-sided curve was introduced with the Galaxy Note 4 in 2014. It gained critical acclaim upon arrival. However, it was launched only in limited quantities in South Korea. It was never described as a flagship product.
The electronics behemoth proved the technology in its home market before adding curved displays to other phones and making curved edge premium phones available worldwide. If Samsung follows the same pattern, it could launch the Galaxy X in South Korea in limited quantities to assess the consumer response before launching it in international markets in 2019. This way, it will be able to ensure that the Galaxy X has minimal impact on the Galaxy S9.