Samsung shows off its foldable smartphone concept with an Infinity Flex display

Samsung foldable phone

Samsung is one step closer to unveil its first commercial foldable smartphone. Before it is released in 2019, Samsung had taken the opportunity to showcase the potential with a new display during its developer conference in San Francisco. It’s called the Infinity Flex and Samsung says that this the future of mobile display technology.

On stage, they had a working prototype with an Infinity Flex display that can unfold like a Nokia Communicator. It can transform from a touch-screen candy bar mode to a square tablet form factor. 

Samsung foldable phone folded

It’s worth noting that this bulky device isn’t a final product, which is why the prototype was shown with the stage lights off. However, we still get to see the Infinity Flex display in action. The foldable large screen looks surprisingly crisp and clear without any distortion when it is unfolded flat. 

In order to implement a flexible screen on a mobile device, Samsung had to overcome several manufacturing challenges. Super AMOLEDs can be flexible, however, the protective layer which is usually made out of glass isn’t. Therefore, Samsung had to develop a new protective layer alternative that uses an advanced composite polymer that is both tough and flexible. 

Typically displays are meant to be static and they are not meant to move after assembly. To ensure that the display stays in place without any visual degradation with repeated flexing, Samsung had to use foldable adhesive. Samsung claims that this new adhesive is able to withstand folding and unfolding hundreds of thousands of times. 

Another huge challenge to overcome is how can they make their flexible display thinner than their thinnest mobile display they have ever made. To achieve that, they managed to reduce the thickness of the polariser by 45%. This layer is crucial for the display readability as it helps to filter external light and to reduce glare. 

SEE ALSO:  Xiaomi is now the second biggest smartphone maker in the world, catching up to Samsung

According to Samsung, this Infinity Flex display is ready for mass production in the coming months so there’s a chance for it to launch in the first quarter of next year.

In terms of usability, the full “tablet” mode supports multi-active window. This allows you to run up to 3 apps at the same time. So you can have YouTube running on the left, while the right panel is having a split frame for a web browser and messaging app.

When the device is closed, the cover display works like a normal smartphone. With app continuity, the app you’re actively using while the phone is closed will automatically load up on the bigger screen as you unfold the device.

In terms of specs, it appears that the prototype unit has a 4.58″ 1960×840 pixels resolution display on the cover that has an aspect ratio of 21:9. Meanwhile, the larger main display has a foldable 7.3″ screen with a higher resolution of 2152×1536 pixels. Of course, the actual commercial product might look completely different from this. 

To entice developers to create new experiences with the Infinity Flex display, Samsung will be distributing an Emulator APK so that they can test out their apps in the new form factor. Samsung is also providing clear developer guidelines so that developers are aware of the new UI features.

During the conference, it was also announced that Android is officially supporting the foldable form factor. They will be including new APIs into the platform to ensure a seamless foldable experience. This includes app continuity and multi-active window, as well as how it can handle resolution changes as a user switches between different modes.

SEE ALSO:  Deal: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 5G now going for less than RM3,000

At the moment, it looks like Samsung has nailed the hardware aspect of the flexible device. Now it all depends on Samsung and 3rd party developers to turn this form factor into something productive like the Galaxy Note series.

We expect Samsung to release their foldable phone as a new series and it could be called the Galaxy X. The first gen device won’t be cheap but eventually, it should trickle down to more affordable price points if it becomes mainstream.  

You can watch the Infinity Flex presentation below at the 1:23:00 mark:

[ VIA ]

Alexander Wong