Samsung Just Filed a Patent for a Foldable Smartphone

December 21, 2015 | Elizabeth Knowles

Samsung's foldable tablet/phone
Photo credit: Screenshot from video by IndVideo

A way to display more with less.

Picture this: You pull your new smartphone out of your pocket (it actually fits now), notice a message on its spine, look at something on the front, and then unfold it to reveal a third display on the inside.

This is one of the many new configurations that could be available with a foldable or rollable screen. Although many tech companies are considering this new type of technology — LG released a flexible paper-thin TV screen for example — Samsung appears to be the first in the cell phone world, having recently filed a patent with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

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Known as Project Valley, the new phone will have a flexible screen that can roll or fold in various manners and the screen it will be made out of plastic rather than glass so it will not break. One possible configuration is a screen that will be able to display images and text on the inside or outside of a device as well as bending around the side — like the spine of a book. Alternatively, the device could have a rolled-up screen that would unroll with the click of a button. These options can both be seen in a concept advertisement below. I will warn you that it is quite painful to watch:

Although the phone could be available as early as 2016, the launch is planned for the UK, Germany, Italy, South Korea, France, Poland, and Nordic countries, with the United States and Canada notably excluded — at least at first.

Back in 2013, Daiwa Securities analyst Jae Lee got a sneak peek at the prototypes and told the Wall Street Journal, "The first one they showed us was the size of a [Galaxy] S3 smartphone which can be folded in half from top to bottom, […] So like a compact powder used by women. [Another device was the] the size of a lengthy wallet which can be unfolded on both sides into the size of a tablet computer."

A two-in one phone and computer sounds pretty practical to me, especially if it doesn’t have to be the size of many of the huge phones people use these days.

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