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This is Samsung’s strangest smartphone design yet, and it’s kind of awesome

Published Jul 1st, 2019 10:12AM EDT
New Samsung phone
Image: LetsGoDigital

For the creative minds charged with dreaming up new smartphone design concepts at Samsung, it would appear to be the case that no idea is ever deemed too strange or off-the-wall. Case in point: A new phone design the company has just patented that completely ignores the failure of Samsung’s piece-of-garbage first foldable phone, pressing right ahead regardless to give us a kind of first cousin of that Samsung Galaxy Fold.

Color renders of the newly patented design, prepared by Dutch tech news site LetsGoDigital, showcase a smartphone with a display that can be pulled from either side to stretch out into a device the size of a tablet. Almost as if it begs to be named the Galaxy Unfoldable (since it unfolds, of course).

We’ve covered a number of these strange-but-true smartphone design concepts patented by Samsung, including everything from the Galaxy Fold that the company is still promising to release to phones with flexible screens, rollable displays, phones you wear around your wrist and much more. All of which leaves you with the impression Samsung apparently thinks this is what will hasten the next great chapter of the handset market — relentless experimentation and fearless blue sky thinking that cranks out one bizarre design after another, seemingly only bounded by a prohibition on hewing too close to the rectangular slabs we keep in our pockets today. With the goal being … maybe one of these wild ideas will strike gold.

As far as this new design goes, Samsung’s patent for the concept — which shows a handset with a display that rolls up as well as out — was published on June 11 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Image source: LetsGoDigital

As depicted in the patent, which you can view here, a rolling mechanism is used to roll up and unroll the device which can result in a display that’s almost three times as large, unfolded, as what you see when the handset is in its most compact form.

As envisioned in the patent documentation, the rolling mechanism is incorporated in extendable frame borders on the left and right-hand sides. A wide border at the top and bottom seems to house important components like the camera and receiver, as well as a motor for the rolling mechanism.

The LetsGoDigital report spots a number of potential problems with the design here, such as the possibility that dust and outside particles might easily find their way into the moving rails that fit together with slots and which support the flexible screen. That calls to mind the flaws that reviewers took note of in early versions of the Galaxy Fold, including the seeming ease with which outside ephemera found its way into the device.

Suffice it to say, you probably won’t have one of these designs in your pocket anytime soon. For starters, it’s worth noting that Samsung Display was the patent applicant here — meaning, the focus seems to be on a smartphone insofar as it provides a vehicle for this new kind of display. Phones with foldable, flexible screens have yet to prove their worth or staying power, so there are still a number of hurdles to cross before something like this is seen in the wild. Samsung, nevertheless, will no doubt keep trying, with even more strange experimental designs sure to come.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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