After years of talk about producing a foldable smartphone, Samsung will be ready to start mass production on the Infinity Flex display in the coming months, the company announced Wednesday at the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco.
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The Infinity Flex display "is the foundation for the smartphone of tomorrow," Justin Denison, Samsung's SVP of mobile product marketing, said during the keynote address. "It's a blank canvas for us to do something beautiful together."
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Denison gave the audience a taste of what Samsung's highly-anticipated foldable phone will look like, holding up a device largely shrouded in darkness to disguise certain elements of design. The display was visible to reveal a cover display that is a fully-functioning touchscreen. A user can unfold the device to access a larger main display. If a user is running an app on the cover display, they can open the device to find the app "right there waiting," Denison said, demonstrating the continuity. The device will allow three apps to run simultaneously, Denison said.
The Infinity Flex will "reinvent the mobile experience," Denison said, enabling "totally new ways of using a mobile device."
To create the display, Samsung has replaced the glass cover window with an advanced composite polymer that's both flexible and tough, Denison explained. Samsung is also using a malleable adhesive, he said, "making this new display flexible and durable enough to be folded hundreds of thousands of times." To make the display foldable, it's also thinner than any mobile display Samsung has ever made, thanks to a new polarizer that's 45 percent thinner.
In addition to producing the Infinity Flex, Denison said, "Our innovation pipeline includes new technologies such as rollable and even stretchable displays."
The breakthroughs in materials have been matched by breakthroughs in manufacturing, Denison said.
Samsung has for years talked about introducing a foldable phone, and in September of this year, Koh declared that it was finally "time to deliver." The Korean company teased the Infinity Flex announcement a few days earlier, when it changed its logo so that the name "Samsung" is folded over itself.
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Huawei, now the world's second-largest smartphone maker, has also been gunning to be first with a foldable phone. However, last week, a little-known mobile company called Royole seemed to beat them to the punch. It released the 7.8-inch FlexPai, a tablet that folds into dual-screen phone. While still rough around the edges, Royole says it expects to ship the devices in late December.
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