It’s customary for Samsung to launch two major Android flagship handsets every year, including a new Galaxy S model in the first half, and a next-gen Galaxy Note phablet in the second half of the year. In 2017, Samsung may unveil a third type of flagship, a handset with a foldable display.
A new report from Digitimes says that Samsung’s most audacious smartphone yet is expected to begin a limited production during the fourth quarter of 2017. That’s the time of the year when Apple sells the most iPhones, and the iPhone 8 will probably be the star of this year’s Christmas quarter.
The iPhone 8 will feature radical design changes, so it’ll be interesting to see whether Samsung will want to counter it with a foldable phone that would be unlike anything else available on the market. It’s likely that the Galaxy Note 8 will also be in stores by then.
It’s unclear at this time whether Samsung’s foldable phone will actually start selling by December. The report notes that mass production of the clam-type smartphone may not begin until the second half of 2018. Samsung may have to overcome some technical issues, unnamed sources said.
Apparently, Samsung is dealing with issues involving the production and reliability of polyimide-based plastic covers for the screen, a key component of a phone that needs to fold up.
The sources said that PI substrates are being produced in large volume, Pi-based plastic covers with reliable quality are a problem, and mass-production might not start until the first half of 2018.
For years, Samsung teased foldable smartphones at various consumer electronic shows. Multiple reports noted that Samsung will finally release such a device this year. The company already has patents describing technology needed for foldable smartphones. Digitimes notes that Samsung competitors including Apple, LG, and Microsoft also have similar patented inventions, suggesting that Samsung will not be alone at making foldable smartphones in the future.