It was a smartphone concept floated by Korean electronics giant Samsung for as far back as a concept video from 2014, four years ago. Late last month they finally set a date for when they would finally introduce to the world a mobile tablet computer that could “fold” into a smartphone; or maybe it was a smartphone that unfolded into a larger tablet. In any case, it seemed the device in question was finally ready for unveiling, if not for mass-production to the larger global market. Said developers’ conference by Samsung happened this week in San Francisco and…well, the demonstration was better than no product.
The Verge reports that a folding mobile device was indeed showcased by Samsung Senior Vice President of Mobile Marketing Justin Denison, but apparently it was still too soon and incomplete to shine a spotlight on the darn thing. Denison on stage at the developer’s event had asked for the lights to dim down then produced a smartphone-sized and shaped gadget with a lit icon-filled display. Like opening a book, he unfolded the device which then lit up a tablet-sized display. Finally, without switching of that display, Denison folded the device again into a smartphone, with the smaller “cover” display activated.
While Samsung is not able to give the new device’s name right now, Denison was allowed to identify the technology that enabled the folding and unfolding of an electronic touchscreen as shown. This was the “Infinity Flex” display. The beauty of the system, which boasts one smartphone-sized cover display and a folding tablet display, is that they are fundamentally three screens (with two linked into the bigger foldable display). Thus a whopping three different apps can be activated simultaneously at any given time, with each display handling one of them.
Development of Infinity Flex by Samsung has received some technical assistance from Google; after all, it is on a smartphone that runs the Android mobile OS, created under the auspices of the internet giant. This help comes in the form of consultation and assistance in using what features exist in Android now that could be used to support the massive processing power needed to run Infinity Flex and its multi-app capability. Justin Denison did dampen enthusiasm a little when he said that mass production will not happen yet until a few months later, meaning no, this device will not come out this year at all.
Granted, Samsung has not been the only electronics company looking into folding-device tech. Fellow Korean brand LG is working on an OLED flat-screen TV that can fold up into a compact box, while Chinese companies Lenovo and Xiaomi are also at the prototype stage with their own folding mobile gadgets.
Images: MobileSyrup, Globe and Mail