After years of rumors and speculations, Samsung is finally gearing up to start production of the Galaxy X display panels. Samsung’s mobile business head DJ Koh has told media in the past that the company aimed to launch the foldable smartphone in 2018 itself, but pushed back its release to fix issues related to the Galaxy X display production and user experience. Manufacturing foldable OLED screens on a large scale would be challenging.
Galaxy X display to have a new folding mechanism
Samsung remains tight-lipped about its foldable smartphone. But sources familiar with the matter told Korean site ETNews that the electronics behemoth is set to start mass production of foldable OLED panels. ETNews didn’t specify in which device the foldable panels will be used, but they are most likely headed for the rumored Galaxy X set to debut early next year. The panels will be bendable, allowing users to fold and unfold the device repeatedly.
Samsung Display will start trial production of the Galaxy X display panels this summer. The pilot production over the summer will help Samsung identify and sort out manufacturing-related issues. Mass production will reportedly kick off towards the end of this year. Samsung initially aims to produce only about 100,000 units before ramping up production to one million units in 2019.
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ETNews also revealed that the Galaxy X will have a unique folding mechanism. Past reports have suggested that it will have three screens – two on the inside and one on the outside. The two inner displays would face each other when folded in half. However, ETNews details a new mechanism to improve the user experience. It says the Galaxy X display would fold only two-thirds.
The top third part will be left exposed to display information such as battery percentage, notifications, time, etc. This way, users will not have to unfold the device every time they get an incoming call. The total screen size is said to be 7-inch when unfolded. Such an interface will also require a redesign of the software.
Galaxy X release date and price
Samsung is rumored to release the Galaxy X at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in February 2019. The company traditionally keeps its MWC Unpacked event for the Galaxy S flagship, but it is planning to unveil the next year’s Galaxy S10 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in early January to make room for the foldable phone.
Samsung is also trying to be the “world’s first” vendor to launch a foldable smartphone. Chinese vendors Huawei, ZTE and Motorola (owned by Lenovo) are also working on foldable smartphones. In fact, Huawei is rumored to unveil its foldable device by the end of this year. Microsoft is also developing a foldable device code-named ‘Andromeda’ that will bridge the gap between laptops and smartphones.
Last month, Shinhan Financial analyst Park Hyung-woo told investors that Samsung could secretly show off the Galaxy X prototype to its carrier partners at the CES before unveiling it at the MWC. Meanwhile, Golden Bridge Investment analyst Kim Jang-yeol predicted that the Galaxy X would cost about 2 million won in Samsung’s home country without carrier subsidies. If converted directly into US dollars, it would be around $1,945, making it twice as expensive as Apple’s iPhone X.
Samsung will initially sell the device only in its home country. It means international launch will still be some time away. Depending on the response in South Korea, the company could launch it in international markets towards the end of 2019 or in 2020.
Will it be a gimmick?
Most people might jump to conclude that the foldable Galaxy X display would be a gimmick. But Samsung’s mobile business head DJ Koh has assured fans that it would be far from a gimmick. It will be a fully functioning smartphone with smooth user experience. Koh said in an interview with CNET that the company would launch the device only when it has “complete confidence that we’re delivering the best user experience.”
Samsung will have to assure customers that they could fold and unfold the device repeatedly without damaging the internal components. Regular users will likely fold and unfold the handset dozens of times every day. The Bell recently reported that Samsung has changed the Galaxy X’s code-name to “Winner” from “Valley.”