One of the next big things Samsung is working on is a foldable smartphone. According to multiple reports, the Project Valley foldable handset should hit the market next year. A recent patent application shows the proposed design for such a device and features the technology needed to make it happen. But Samsung isn’t too sure if anyone would buy the handset, which is costly to make.
“Samsung is already capable of mass producing foldable phones – although premium models are usually made in small quantities – by late next year. But, the company is not sure whether there is market demand for the costly, foldable devices,” a source told The Korea Herald.
“If (the market condition is) confirmed, foldable tablets — instead of smartphones — are likely to be unveiled with panels facing outward,” he added.
The outward panels apparently have a less technical burden than inward panels because of a larger radius of curvature.
Other issues that can affect production concern other components, including glass sheets and batteries, that might not fold as easily as displays do.
The components needed for such devices are already available from suppliers, although yield problems may impact production. They would also have a direct effect on price, and Samsung is not sure whether consumers would pay more money for an expensive foldable device.
Kolon Industries is a company that makes transparent polyimide films called CPI, which can replace glass sheets on smartphones. But it can only make some one million units in the second half of next year, as a pilot production program.
Samsung SDI can’t make foldable batteries — it can’t even make safe Galaxy Note 7 batteries. But that’s not an issue, as batteries could be placed in the folded areas of the phone.
Finally, yes, the Galaxy Note 7 debacle is one other reason Samsung is playing it safe. “Following Galaxy Note 7 issues, Samsung Electronics has become more cautious about unveiling new products – in terms of hardware,” a Samsung Electronics affiliate told the site.