Samsung Electronics Co. is set to release its first foldable smartphone that can fold in half next year. When folded, the foldable smartphone offers a 4.58-inch OLED touchscreen display which is small enough to fit into a pocket. However, it grows into a 7.3-inch tablet when the OLED panel is fully unfolded.
As soon as Justin Denison, senior vice president of product strategy and marketing for Samsung Electronics America Inc., come on the stage to deliver a keynote address during Samsung Developer Conference (SDC) 2018 held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco on Nov. 7 (local time), he suddenly took the foldable smartphone out of the inner pocket of his suit.
He horizontally unfolded the smartphone in his hands and the foldable phone grew two times bigger, and he said, “Today is an important milestone (for the future of smartphone).” Then, 5,000 developers and reporters at the gathering all cheered with applause.
The Infinity Flex Display is an "in-folding" type display that can fold inwards widthwise. Samsung Electronics described the foldable smartphone’s screens on both sides as the flaps of butterfly wings. When folded, the Infinity Flex Display offers a 4.58-inch display with 21:9 aspect ratio. When unfolded, it comes with a standard 4.2:3 aspect ratio as well as a screen size of 7.3 inches. When Samsung Electronics introduced the Infinity Flex Display, the screen showed a message of “Arriving Soon,” hinting that the foldable smartphone will be launched as soon as early next year.
Multitasking is another big selling point for Samsung’s Infinity Flex-based foldable smartphone. The 7.3-inch screen is able to split into three zones at the same time, allowing users to use up to three apps simultaneously. Denison showed how to use YouTube video, Internet and messages on one screen at once.
There’s also app continuity between the two states of the smartphone. In other words, if users are using Google Maps while the phone is closed, when users unfold the display Google Maps will be still open and will automatically resize itself to match the new layout.
In this regard, Flipboard, a news-curating company in the United States, also demonstrated a tailored display for foldable smartphones. It showed how pictures are resized to match the bigger layout as a book is opened when unfolded after scrolling down postings and pictures on the folded display.
In addition, Samsung Electronics introduced “One UI” for user experience (UX) that can only experience with foldable smartphones. One UI is a next-generation user interface that enables users to easily control the smartphone with one hand. The new interface places a phonebook for contacts in the bottom half of the display screen, making it possible for users to reach and touch objects with a thumb while using their smartphones with one hand. One UI is to be used with the new Galaxy S9 Series and the Galaxy Note 9 Series’ Android 9.0 Pie version first in November and to be expanded to other devices from January next year. It will also take charge of the foldable smartphone’s multitasking and continuity between the displays.