Samsung: Our foldable phone will be a tablet that fits in your pocket

Samsung mobile boss DJ Koh is convinced we need a foldable phone.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Samsung desperately wants to be the maker of the world's first foldable tablet but only if it can find a compelling reason for consumers to want one.

On numerous occasions over the past three years, the company's mobile CEO, DJ Koh, has stated his foldable phone goal, but that title could be snatched by Chinese rival Huawei if Samsung doesn't come up with the goods soon.

Samsung has previously said its foldable phone would be unveiled in 2018, but then postponed it to 2019. Then in September Koh backtracked and said it could be unveiled as early as November.

Koh has now offered some insight into why consumers might want a foldable phone.

At yesterday's launch of the mid-range Galaxy A9, the world's first four-camera phone, Koh told ZDNet sister site CNET that consumers would use the foldable device as a tablet with multitasking capability and then fold it into a more portable phone.

"I'm positive that we do need a foldable phone," said Koh.

Koh reiterated that the foldable phone had to be "really meaningful to our customer" and stressed that Samsung must deliver a user experience that is up to his standard.

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The exec also wants to avoid the product becoming a gimmick, a fate that is entirely possible for a foldable phone.

Rather, he wants the concept to have the same level of success as the Galaxy Note, which was written off at first by critics for its large screen, but has since been recognized as valuable by rivals in the form of devices like the iPhone XS Max.

He admitted that when Samsung does start selling a foldable phone, it could be a "niche market", but he's confident it will expand.

The catch for would-be buyers is that if Samsung were to announce the foldable phone at next month's Samsung Developer Conference, that would mean it is unlikely to sell the phone for some time yet.

Still, it might be a necessary move to get developers on board with apps that take advantage of the different format. Nonetheless, Samsung would still get to claim it had made the world's first foldable phone.

Samsung is likely to use its flexible OLED technology for its folding phone, which would allow a single display to fold, as opposed to having two separate screens connected via a hinge.

Previous and related coverage

Samsung: Our foldable phone could be unveiled by November, 'It's time to deliver'

Samsung once again teases world's first foldable smartphone with flexible display.

Samsung says its foldable phone will be a tablet you can put in your pocket CNET

D.J. Koh, CEO of Samsung's mobile business, offers a few hints in an interview with CNET.

Samsung targeting foldable Note device for 2018: Mobile boss

Samsung Electronics is targeting a 2018 launch for a foldable phone in the Galaxy Note series, the firm's mobile boss says, but it will rollout only when ready.

Samsung still wants to be the first to launch foldable phone, says mobile boss

Samsung says it is focusing on developing innovations for a foldable smartphone that will be genuinely accepted and liked by consumers. The Galaxy S10 expected early next year also won't be the firm's first 5G phone, he said, while a separate model will.

A business laptop with 3 screens? Microsoft patent filing points at multi-screen folding device TechRepublic

A dual-screen device patent recently filed by Microsoft includes a third screen attached to the devices hinge that can display information in a variety of configurations.

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