Samsung is forging ahead with foldable smartphones. After eight years of development for the new form factor, the company is planning two more foldable phone devices to follow the launch of its foldable Galaxy S10. The company hopes to gain an advantage over competitors in what the company believes to be a new market segment.
According to a report from Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources, the company is developing a clam-shell foldable phone that harkens back to the heyday of flip phones like Motorola’s Razr phone. The company is also working on a phone that can fold away from the user, similar to the recently unveiled Mate X phone from Huawei.
Samsung plans to unveil its next folding phone late this year or early next year, according to Bloomberg.
Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi are all now working on phones with flexible screens, though it’s unclear how consumers will respond to the products or their prices. Samsung’s foldable Galaxy retails at $1,980, while Huawei’s Mate X’s price tag comes in at $2,600. Samsung expects to produce at least 1 million foldable phones in 2019, according to Bloomberg.
The success of the foldable phone could help Samsung regain some momentum as smartphone sales have cooled. Earlier this year, Samsung revealed its smartphone business failed to meet expectations in 2018 due to lackluster sales and increased competition from Chinese competitors such as Huawei. Apple also recently cut its sales forecast for the first time in 15 years, warning investors of lower-than-expected revenue during the important, end-of-year holiday quarter.
Apple, however, has not announced any plans to release flexible-screen phones, though a recently published patent indicates the company is at least considering a foldable form factor. The company may be holding out to see how consumers respond to the devices, or it may be waiting for improved technology.
The early versions of foldable phones rely on plastic polymers that are very flexible, but prone to creasing and scratches. Samsung acknowledged that the phone is prone to developing a crease down the middle after it has been folded over 10,000 times. Bloomberg reports that the company is even considering offering free screen replacements for customers.
According to a report from Wired, researchers at Corning Glass are working on an ultrathin, bendable glass technology measuring just 0.1 millimeters thick and that can bend to a 5 millimeter radius.