March 6, 2019
It was just last month that Samsung finally unveiled its boundary pushing folding phone, the aptly named Galaxy Fold. But, if rumors are to be believed, the company isn't sitting on its laurels, and plans to bring two other folding phones to market soon.
While Samsung wasn't the first to unveil its folding phone, it was arguably the first brand of note. But, in the days that followed its announcement, many other manufacturers have revealed their own innovative mobile tech, including Huawei and Xiaomi.
The two new proposed phones reportedly both offer a different approach to the folding phone, and could well appeal to different markets.
What do we Know About the Samsung Folding Phones?
One folding phone is out in the open already. The Samsung Galaxy Fold was publicly announced just a few weeks ago, to mainly positive response from the tech media. Innovation comes at a cost apparently though, and even the earliest of adopted might baulk at the price tag, which sits just shy of $2,000. Regardless, the phone, which folds out into a 7.3-inch screen, is an impressive device in its own right, and Samsung has told consumers that it will be available later in the year.
Samsung clearly has big plans for folding phones, claiming that it will produce 1 million units in 2019. It's not hard to believe then these rumors that it's also developing two more models, alongside the Fold.
While the leaks in the Bloomberg report lack any concrete validity for now, and are attributed to ‘people familiar with the matter', Samsung has a proven track record of having its mobile phones leaked and covered by news outlets long before the official reveals. We've seen this with practically every ‘S' model phone the company makes, and the most recent S10 was no exception. The company even managed to reveal the Fold ahead of the launch by (accidentally?) releasing a promo video too early.
What are the Two New Samsung Phones?
Rumors suggest that the two new models won't copy the Fold's design. Instead, each offers a new take on the folding phone concept.
Clam shell phone – One of the models purportedly has a clamshell design, much like the original flip phones of old, where the aim of the device isn't to offer a tablet-sized screen as is the case with the Fold, but to make the phone itself smaller and more compact. In theory the device would be half the size of a typical Samsung phone, folding vertically to reveal a phone of standard dimensions. BBC tech journalist, Zoe Kleinman, actually commented on wanting a similar device in her recent article on Mobile World Congress, and with good reason:
“At a networking event one evening, I chatted to the owner of a mobile phone company over a glass of wine. We were discussing the new trend for folding phones. And I said I would prefer one that folded out to be the size my existing phone is now. He asked me why on Earth that was the case, so I showed him how awkwardly it fits into the pockets of my jeans. And he was absolutely astonished. His fitted just fine, he said – he’d never even thought about it.” – Zoe Kleinman
Outer screen phone – While the Galaxy Fold does have an outside screen already, it's a rather tiny 4.58-inch display. It's not until you open it up that you get the benefit of that large 7.3-inch screen. Samsung's second rumored device effectively turns the fold inside out, making the large screen wrap around the outside of the device. Presumably, it will remove that smaller, now redundant screen, all together.
In principle, that sounds very similar to the design of the Huawei Mate X, which in some ways stole the Fold's show. Plenty of journalists attending Mobile World Congress commented that it was a better design, and more practical. Samsung may be trying to head Huawei off at the pass with its own similar design.
While Samsung itself isn't giving anything away, the sources behind the leak claim that the new models could come as soon as this year, and accompany the Fold.
Who Else is Making Folding Phones?
Since Samsung's announcement, other manufacturers have also shown their hand and revealed their own folding phones. The most notable is the aforementioned Huawei device – the Mate X may not be cheap, but it's certainly desirable. The Samsung Fold looks relatively cheap compared to the current $2,600 price attached to the Mate X, although the company has assured its customers it is currently doing everything it can to bring the price down.
Xiaomi has also got shown off its own folding model, and it looks remarkably similar to the Mate X. However, the company has stated that it currently has no plans to put it into production and is waiting to see what the public demand is for such devices.
The biggest name in mobile phones, Apple, has yet to mention any plans for a folding phone. While it has filed patents with designs for such devices, that's not necessarily any indicator that it plans to join Samsung and the folding phone crowd any time soon.
To find out who else is working on folding phones, read our dedicated guide to Foldable Phones.
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