Samsung’s Galaxy Fold may not be out yet but that doesn’t mean Samsung’s not already working on its successor. It’d be far more surprising if they weren’t, in fact. Given a new discovery, a Samsung patent filed with the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), we’re not in for the ‘Samsung is sleeping’ surprise. What is surprising is that Samsung appears to be working on an expandable phone.
The patent was unearthed by tech blog Let’s Go Digital, which has also taken the liberty of mocking up what such a device might look like (seen in the featured image above). It shows what looks to be a standard Samsung flagship, which can expand to increase its width. Voilà, instant tablet.
Rollin’, rollin’ rollin’…
Samsung’s expandable phone has only been seen in diagram form, and there’s no timeline for when we might see actual hardware. We’ve got little doubt that there’s an early prototype in a Samsung vault somewhere, though. Samsung’s patent doesn’t explain how Samsung might achieve its expansion effect but we’ve got an idea of how it might be possible. Oddly enough, it’s not anything we haven’t seen before.
The way Samsung might make a smartphone like this work is to emulate competitor LG, of all things. Specifically, LG’s rollable Signature OLED R TV but on a smaller scale. A miniature version of the rollable TV would be a fine way to tuck away the excess screen and expand it, with the mechanism mostly housed in the solid part of the phone. You know, the edge that doesn’t slide outward? Yeah, that bit.
Such a design would have a few advantages. There will be no hinge and a horizontally-sliding screen should see fewer bits creeping underneath. There’s also less chance of a crease developing in the device’s flexible display, a potential hazard for current folding smartphones. There are also disadvantages, one that anyone who has used a portable projector screen will be familiar with. Misalignment of the screen with the rolling drum that stores it, or failure of the internal mechanisms that roll the display back.
Let’s Go Digital claims that we’ll see this design turn up as the Galaxy S11, something that we’re not convinced of. It’s a risky design that would make more sense in the next-gen Galaxy Fold rather than Samsung’s flagship range, perhaps under a new title. Like the Galaxy Slide, maybe?