As 2019 draws to a close, one of the highlights of the year from a mobile technology perspective has to be the advent of foldability that started to become a fixture across the industry this year. Consumer electronics giants from around the world, from Apple to Samsung as well as Chinese brands like Huawei and Xiaomi, have all experimented with foldable tech in one form or another, be it by securing patents for a design, tinkering behind the scenes, and in some cases releasing a full-fledged device like a foldable smartphone.
Samsung has arguably been among the most aggressive along these lines, thanks to its release this fall of the Galaxy Fold smartphone and the promise of additional foldable smartphone releases being prepped for 2020. While all that goes on, meanwhile, Samsung is also toiling away on another piece of foldable tech — a tablet.
That’s according to a design patent Samsung Electronics filed with The Hague International Design System in May of this year (which was approved earlier this month). The application includes, along with the description, about 35 images showing three different tablet variants, and Dutch tech news site LetsGoDigital has prepared a color rendering of the tablet in both a closed and open state based on the patent details which you can check out below:
Intriguingly, the patent application is headed with a title that refers to a “mobile telephone,” which is why the team at LetsGoDigital describes the image you see above as essentially a big, tablet-sized foldable phone. One that folds along a horizontal axis and which, when open, lets the user enjoy a pretty wide screen. There’s also no front display of any kind when the device is closed, making it sort of resemble a 3DS.
Something else not visible in the design here is a camera. One theory is that Samsung might include that capability with an under-the-screen sensor, tech that might come to the first smartphones in 2020.
As always, time will tell if Samsung decides to officially press forward and turn the device envisioned herein into an actual product. We’ve already got possibly two foldable phones coming next year from Samsung, so it makes sense the company would consider the potential of a foldable tablet, as well. Of course, the company’s first try at a folding phone hasn’t exactly set the world on fire, so it will be interesting to see if that factors into how it decides to adjust its plans for future folding devices, if at all. A foldable tablet from Samsung also won’t be alone next year, as Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 foldable laptop should come to market in 2020, while Microsoft’s Surface Duo dual-screen foldable device is expected at the end of next year.