Next year could be the year you’ll be rolling or folding away your mobile gadgets, according to a new report from South Korea.
A Samsung official has told Business Korea that “The industry believes that the commercialisation of foldable smartphones will be possible in 2016.”
We’ve been here before, of course. There have been plenty of promises of foldable and bendable mobile phones for several years and they’ve all failed to materialise so far. Unless you count Samsung’s Galaxy Note Edge, which is hardly bendy; it’s just curved on one side, placing it (along with the other curved smartphones that appeared between in 2013 and 2014) in both the “funky” and the “curiously pointless” categories at one and the same time. Does accessing your digital content on a curved phone display make much of a difference?
That said, transparent, flexible and foldable displays are already in existence, although they’re presently merely concepts rather than real products. But bendy displays are one thing, while processors, cameras and batteries are quite another. Try bending any of those and you’ll end up with a little box of broken shards and fragments, not a neatly folded up smartphone.
Samsung also has some “form” to contend with; it hinted last year that a foldable phone would be available for distribution in 2015. But the Business Korea report does imply that Samsung’s boffins believe they’re much closer to developing and producing a marketable foldable device next year.
If so, we can expect quite a shakeup of the mobile market, a seismic tectonic shift rather than a local disruption. They’ll undoubtedly help portability, which should attract a lot of consumer interest, but you could also see some delightfully sci-fi like developments emerging, like an apparent smartphone that actually unfurls into a tablet (or even bigger device).
Some have already started speculating that the Galaxy S7, or a spin-off such as the Galaxy S7 Bendy,” may be the first product out of Samsung equipped with such futuristic tech”.
What we remain in the dark about, however, is whether the South Korean giant’s tech boffins have really cracked the problem of developing bendy phone components like those cameras, processors and batteries mentioned a moment ago. If they have, that phone is going straight on my wishlist to Santa.