The upcoming Galaxy S9 is hogging all the attention in the rumor mill. Meanwhile, Samsung’s patents related to the foldable smartphone continue to appear one after another. Folks at Dutch publication LetsGoDigital have spotted a new patent that Samsung filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The new Galaxy X patent shows what the foldable smartphone would look like and what it could do.
Galaxy X patent suggests it would work like a Nintendo 3DS
Samsung is planning to unveil the foldable phone next year, according to the company’s mobile business chief DJ Koh. The Galaxy X patent suggests that the handset would look similar to ZTE’s Axon M. If Samsung ends up using this design, it would have two touchscreen displays connected by a hinge near the top and bottom. The two screens would enable enhanced video and gaming experiences.
According to the Galaxy X patent documents, the two screens could be folded inwards to protect the displays or outwards. You can fully open the device to use both the screens or fold the phone outwards to use only one screen. Interestingly, the screens appear to have curved edges, which would allow Samsung to offer a seamless experience when using the device in tablet mode.
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LetsGoDigital says the device would behave like a Nintendo 3DS console. The secondary display will be multi-touchscreen. It has two touch areas – one at the top and another at the bottom of the display. You can perform a variety of actions by using two index fingers simultaneously. The secondary screen could be used to control actions on the primary screen when playing games.
The patent also describes a sensor that calculates the angle between the two screens. It will let the device know when the second screen is not in use. The foldable phone could then turn off the secondary display automatically to save battery power. The Galaxy X patent suggests the device would come with stylus support, meaning it could resemble Samsung’s Galaxy Note line.
The two screens have their own camera and speaker at the top and bottom of the front panel. They are also said to have a camera and a speaker on the back panel. If this patent turns into a reality, it would be far less exciting than the flexible display smartphone concept that Samsung showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2013. It was a thin, bendable single screen that you could wrap around your wrist. It seems like such a radical smartphone is still a few years away. The Galaxy X could just be the beginning of the foldable smartphone era.
Other patents filed by Samsung with the WIPO suggest a similar design for the foldable phone. One of the patents showed that the device would have three antennas that will ensure that the foldable design doesn’t interfere with the signal. Another depicted a 5-inch phone that you could fold out into a 7-inch tablet. Samsung has also developed a bendable screen that allows the display to bend at 90-degree.
Galaxy X could be unveiled next month
The rumor mill expects Samsung to showcase the Galaxy X at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) next month. Recently, the Korean company denied rumors that it would unveil the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus at the CES, which has improved the odds for the Galaxy X unveiling at the Las Vegas trade show.
The foldable phone is expected to be an experimental device. Samsung would first test the market by launching it in its home country. Phone Arena claims the company would initially manufacture only 100,000 units of the Galaxy X for South Korea. Depending on the response, it could bring the device to other countries later in 2018 or early 2019.
Samsung’s foldable smartphone has made several appearances on regulatory platforms, and once on Samsung’s own website. The handset is said to have model number SM-G888N0, where “N0” suggests it’s intended for the South Korean market. The Galaxy X has also been certified by the Bluetooth SIG, the WiFi Alliance, and the Korean Communication Commission (KCC).
Microsoft, Apple working on their own foldable phones
Samsung is not the only company working on foldable smartphones. Microsoft’s smartphone business might have gone extinct, but the software giant hasn’t given up on smartphones. Recent patents filed by Microsoft suggest that the company is working on a foldable phone that could transform into a tablet and a mini-laptop. It would run a full-fledged Windows rather than a slimmed down version of the OS.
It is unclear if or when Microsoft’s device would hit the store shelves. Apple is also said to be exploring the foldable phone technology. The Cupertino company is working with LG Display on the project instead of Samsung due to the fear that Samsung could steal its foldable display technology.