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Samsung might be working on an exciting new kind of foldable phone

Published Apr 29th, 2021 11:35PM EDT
Galaxy Z Fold Tab
Image: Samsung

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Samsung is the undisputed leader in the foldable smartphone business, in part because the Korean giant was the first to manufacture phones with foldable screens. Samsung kept showing off the technology at trade shows like CES before putting together a commercial foldable product. The first Galaxy Fold arrived in early 2019, but the launch wasn’t flawless. Samsung missed two key design issues during testing and had to postpone the release date by almost half a year to fix them. The Galaxy Z rebrand followed in 2020 when Samsung launched the Galaxy Z Flip clamshell and the Galaxy Z Fold 2 foldable. The handsets delivered a few massive upgrades, including a foldable screen made of glass and a hinge mechanism that kept dust away better than the previous models.

This year, Samsung is widely expected to launch two foldable devices, the obvious successors of last year’s Flip and Fold. The Flip 3 and Fold 3 might be unveiled as soon as July, with Samsung looking to replace the Note series with this form factor, at least in 2021. These are supposedly the only foldable phones coming out of Samsung this year, according to some reports. Others say that an even more exciting foldable product might be at least teased this year if not launched. And Samsung might have just confirmed those rumors.

A series of leaks detailed a Samsung foldable featuring two hinges and three display parts. The dual-foldable gadget was described both as a smartphone and as a tablet. Both make sense. Unfolded, the gadget would look more like a tablet than the Fold ever did. Fold it up, and a part of the screen can be used in a phone mode, albeit the contraption would be at least as bulky as the Fold. There’s even an unofficial name for this device: Galaxy Z Fold Tab.

There’s no telling when and if Samsung will go ahead with such a device, but this type of foldable handset/tablet will certainly give Samsung an advantage over competitors. Several Android smartphone makers from China have released their own Fold-like devices or plan to launch such handsets soon. On top of that, some companies have shown off daring contraptions with foldable displays that can be rolled.

Samsung S-Foldable Display
Samsung S-Foldable Display trademark. Image source: Samsung via LetsGoDigital

Nevertheless, Samsung filed for a Samsung “S-Foldable” trademark with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), Dutch blog LetsGoDigital has discovered. Unlike patented technology that’s not guaranteed to make it into commercial devices, trademarks indicate that a company plans to use that particular name for marketing a new device.

According to the description, the “S-Foldable” trademark would be used for “display panels; display for smartphones; LCD large-screen displays; flexible flat panel displays for computers.”

The name makes it clear that S-Foldable would refer to a foldable device component, and the description tells us it’s a display. How do we know S-Foldable isn’t for one of the existing or future Flips and Folds? Well, Samsung already has a marketing term for the foldable displays used in the Flip and Fold models. The Infinity Flex was announced back in November 2018, when Samsung teased the first-gen Fold handset. This was nearly four months before the Fold was officially introduced. The Flip and Fold 2 also used Infinity Flex displays. S-Foldable must be for something else.

Galaxy Z Fold Tab Concept
Concept showing a Samsung foldable phone with two hinges and three display sides. Image source: LetsGoDigital

A dual-hinge foldable device would look like the letter “S” when folded, as seen in the concept image above that LetsGoDigital created.

With this in mind, it seems like just a matter of time until Samsung unveils the dual foldable Galaxy Z Fold Tab handset/tablet. We’ll just have to wait and see whether Samsung will tease the S-Foldable tech this year.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.