Samsung is finally making good on its promise to debut a foldable phone. Well, sort of. At the Samsung Developer Conference today, Samsung’s Justin Denison got on stage to announce the Infinity Flex display. This flexible OLED technology will launch in 2019 as part of a still unnamed phone. Denison had the phone on stage, but we only got to see if for a precious few seconds.
Almost every phone today uses a glass cover on top of the display. While glass can crack if you drop your phone, it’s very difficult to scratch, and its rigidity adds strength to the device frame. Glass doesn’t bend, though. Samsung created a new composite polymer to replace the glass on top of the Infinity Flex display. We didn’t get any specifics, but Denison says it’s “both flexible and tough.”
OLED panels are fabricated on flexible substrates, so it’s been possible to make a foldable display for years as long as you only wanted to fold it a few times. More than that and the adhesive that holds the display layers together would degrade, causing the display to fail. Again, Samsung tackled this problem by creating a new material. The adhesive holding the Infinity Flex lamination together remains flexible for hundreds of thousands of folds.
Finally, Samsung had to make the display thinner so you could fold the phone flat. If you look at the FlexPai, you’ll notice it’s wedge-shaped. Samsung reduced the thickness of the polarizer, an essential component that filters light to make the display more readable. The new polarizer is 45 percent thinner, allowing the display to fold almost completely flat.
The phone with this technology is still very much a mystery. Denison had one in his pocket and showed it off on stage for about 15 seconds. It’s a two-screen design with a smaller “cover display” on the outside that acts like a regular phone display. If you unfold the device, you have a 7.3-inch tablet-like display on the other side. We don’t know what the phone looks like because Samsung had it disguised with a blocky case.
Samsung confirms that it has worked with Google to ensure that the Android platform and apps will work on its foldable phone. When unfolded, you’ll actually be able to run three apps side-by-side, which is not supported on current Android implementations.
Samsung would not commit to a specific timeline for the foldable phone. All we know is this phone will be available at some point in 2019.
Now read: The FlexPai Is Technically the First Foldable Phone You Can Buy, but You Shouldn’t, Samsung Swears to Deliver Foldable Phone By End of 2018, and Huawei Looks to Beat Samsung to Market With a Foldable Phone