Samsung reported to be working on tablet with folding screen

Samsung reported to be working on tablet with folding screen

Summary: A report out of South Korea says Samsung is going to release a mobile device with a folding screen. The device supposedly unfolds from smartphone size to a small tablet form. Intriguing as it sounds, it’s not something buyers are likely to want.


Device makers have long wanted to produce a smartphone-like gadget that is small yet has multiple displays that unfold into a bigger device. A report has surfaced saying Samsung is working on such a gadget for release next year.


The Korean report is not clear given the difficulties in translating the Korean to English, but from the drawing accompanying an earlier patent application, the device looks to be a tri-fold design using three displays. The small gadget, apparently a smartphone, unfolds into a tablet with an 8- or 9-inch display.

In the drawing it's unclear if the gadget uses a single folding display or three smaller displays that work together when unfolded. The device appears to be thick when closed in the smartphone form.

This may be one of those prototype devices that never sees the light of day. Even if released, this type of folding gadget has never caught consumers’ eyes in the past. It’s easy to forget, but a number of smartphones with multiple displays that produce a bigger screen have appeared over the years and not many people bought them. CNET’s Jessica Dolcourt has a roundup of such devices, none of which is still around today.

This new information follows on the heels of a recent report that Samsung hopes to make devices with bendable displays. It is not clear from this latest report if this is the technology used.

This seems to be another wild idea that companies are kicking around to make devices that stand out from the crowded field. There are many smartphones for consumers to choose from, and the tablet space is getting crowded, too. Samsung may be trying to avoid the "me too" dilemma that OEMs are facing. It’s not a sure bet that this type of device, smartphone or tablet, is the solution.

See also:

Topics: Mobility, Samsung, Smartphones, Tablets

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  • right timing

    If a device like this was released and wasn't to bulky when folded up and really did unfold to form a tablet sized screen then I could see it gaining some traction.

    With thin form screens and no bezels being done now so the screens could line up without gaps I could see this being a hit with anyone who carries a Samsung phone and Samsung tablet at the moment as it means one device with screen sizes for both use cases but without the permanent size of the tablet.

    An idea like this might not have worked a few years back but with people having carried 2 devices for a while, any chance to cut that back down to 1 without loosing their current functionality could be a winner.

    In saying that though I wouldn't get one as coming from Samsung it'll be running Android or Tizen.
    • Multiple screens

      Yes they never made it in the past but a bunch of phones had touch screens too. All of them were crap until the iphone came out with the capacitive screen. If Samsung pulls off a proper device, I will buy one.
      • Iphone

        Lars, your thoughts were my thoughts exactly. It will not catch on if it does not work well, but if it does work well then it might be a good seller. I had a smart phone before the iphone, an HTC running the old version of windows phone. It did what I wanted, but it did not compare to the iphone. The iphone took it to a new level.

        If Samsung wants this to work then it needs to be more than a gimmick, but rather a well functioning system.
  • patenting what

    What are Samsung patenting this time

    Folding things to make them smaller?

    Or the number 3

    Sony's folding tablet didn't sell particularly well I think.
    Henry 3 Dogg
    • They should be fine

      as long as they don't call it "the Courier"
    • I'd think patenting whatever makes this unfold to a "real" screen.

      But you are right - if Apple can patent a rectangle with round corners, then they've set the precedent for other companies to patent silly things like the number 3.
      • Being that Apple's patent was a trade dress patent

        and this would be a utility patent, what on earth is your point (other than ignorance)?
  • Let's count to 4

    "the device looks to be a tri-fold design using three displays."

    No. It looks like a bi-fold design with four displays.
    Henry 3 Dogg
    • Spoken like a person...

      ...who has never shopped for a wallet before.
      I count 3 folding panels.
      Just like a trifold wallet.
  • earlier device market failures

    I seem to recall quite a few flat, touch/stylus screen devices with batteries with 8"+ screens running Windows 2000; didn't catch on with many, thus, surely, tablets are a device that just didn't have a market.

    No, I think prior devices have simply come up short from what such a fold-out design should deliver. We can't know whether the next fold-out device will deliver what it needs to in order to become the next market 'thing'. I know, done right, I would be VERY interested.
  • Ummm... Samsung already announced this in January 2013 at CES...

    And it looks awesome. I believe they said to expect devices in 2015 as well. Previous attempts at multi-screen devices have been clunky. If what they release is anything like what they showed at CES, it will be a hit.

    You're like a year and a half late James.
  • I've got 99 problems but translation ain't one

    "given the difficulties in translating the Korean to English"

    Um... what?

    Maybe it's my close proximity to the University at Buffalo, but we have PLENTY of Asian students here who do just fine speaking English and probably all of them would love a freelance opportunity to do that "uber-difficult" conversion from Korean to English for you...

    ...and maybe this is why America is falling behind both on innovation and education?
    This isn't even a lack of creativity or incentive - this is the movie Idiocracy as a prophecy.
    • Your comment

      interrupted me while I was watching "ow my balls."
  • Depends on the implementation

    If it's good, people will want it. Remember lots of "experts" said the same thing about touchscreens in general before the first iPhone.
    • Totally agree

      This is an endemic problem in journalism. Rather, more like yellow journalism. "Is there nothing to write about today that will get people to engage and help pay our bills with display ad page views? Then, let's create something!"

      Tablets were non-starters, the PC has been dead a thousand times over, why would anyone buy and all-in-one, wearables are useless, game consoles are dead... And so it goes.

      The reference to the article on failed multi-screen devices is not even relevant in this context. It was a grasp at a way to support James's very weak proposition. First, he's working off of drawings, the business context of which can't possibly be clear. Second, he's assuming because something *similar* failed in the past, nobody wants it. Until automobiles were clean enough and easy to operate, they didn't sell either.

      The tech has now caught up with the application, which everyone has an issue with: how do we fit more into less? At some point, 4K-plus resolutions on small screens don't make sense. More real estate does. And if it's executed properly - because it now can - it will sell because it's useful.

      People are willing to tote around big-screened phones, even though the compromises are staring us in the face every day. 5" phones *don't* really fit in pockets, do they? And how many of us have the ability to handle one with only one hand, the way the gods intended? Anyone notice the new wave of 4-4.5" phones coming from just about every manufacturer? Gee, I wonder why.

      The prospect of a form factor that is less of a compromise (if we're really honest) is intriguing, and it looks like it'll be here soon. Nothing wrong with any of that. Except maybe the yellow journalism we have to put up with in between advancements.
  • "it’s not something buyers are likely to want"

    How on Earth can you conceivably know?

    If you mean "it’s not something I'd be likely to want", then have the guts to say so. Beyond one or two fellow bloggers, you have aboslutely no idea.

    And nor do I. So lets both wait and see how they implement it, and whether it has any real-world use.

    Why is it so hard for you guys to just give us the facts, and stop thinking you you have some Special Insight (other than Microsoft tip-offs)?
    • RTFA

    • Nice, Heenan73

      I see you managed to squeeze MS into this, even with no reference.

      But then again, why should we be surprised, it's obviously what you're paid to do, so...
  • Already designed a long time ago, BY ME!

    I've had this design way-way-way back in the late 1600's
    (scroll to page bottom)

    • If you really created this design in the late 1600's...

      ... never mind tablets, let's talk about the perpetual life elixir you also invented :-)