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Samsung Galaxy X: Everything we know so far

galaxy x
Samsung’s foldable phone

Think the Samsung Edge display was cool? Something cooler could be coming very soon. Samsung has been working on foldable displays for a number of years, and the South Korean giant might finally be ready to showcase its first folding smartphone in late 2018 or early 2019.

Information about the phone, which has been dubbed the Galaxy X or “Treble Eight” (don’t confuse it with the Galaxy S10 that we also anticipate) has slowly trickled out. Here’s everything we think we know about it so far.

Release and price

So when should we expect to see Samsung’s folding masterpiece? The hype around the phone is about to get even greater, as visitors to the Samsung Mobile Facebook page have been greeted by a new profile image — a carefully folded-over version of the Samsung logo. The shape is exactly what we expect the rumored phone to take, a modern interpretation of the classic clamshell folding phones, like the Motorola Razr.

samsung foldable smartphone news folding phone logo

Why the sudden introduction of the not-so-subtle hint? According to an interview between DJ Koh and CNBC, details about the Galaxy X may be offered at the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco on November 7. This fits a report from Tom’s Guide, which notes that Samsung has a “New Galaxy UX” track for the Developer Conference, which will introduce the new user interface and show off some of its biggest features. Bloomberg also reports a detailed conceptual image of the phone will be shown, which fits with earlier reports that confirmed the launch of the foldable smartphone isn’t far away. In those earlier reports, Koh also indicated the phone isn’t a one-time thing, and might actually emerge as a series.

While we may well get some details and images about the new phone, it likely won’t launch until 2019. Rumors and leaks suggest Samsung intends to launch the device early in 2019. They claim the initial rollout wouldn’t be on a large scale, but would instead target more specific markets with a “broader commercial debut in the second half of 2019.” If we had to guess exactly when Samsung plans to launch the phone, we’d hesitantly go with the rumor that the phone will be announced either during CES 2019 in January, or at Mobile World Congress in February 2019.

Expect to pay a high price for the phone. Kim Jang-yeol, head of research at Golden Bridge Investment, says the phone could reportedly cost as much as 2 million won at release, Korea Times reports. In the U.S., that converts to about $ 1,850. This is similar to the Royole Flexpai, a folding smartphone with a small production.

This project has been in the cards for some time. Samsung made reference to flexible and folding screens in its end-of-2017 financial report, discussing its intention to “differentiate its smartphones by adopting cutting-edge technologies, such as foldable OLED displays.” The company first introduced the concept of a foldable display at CES 2013 and supposedly showed its first foldable phone prototype in a private meeting at CES 2014.

Software and special features

The upcoming foldable Samsung smartphone presents a few unique challenges. In addition to creating durable hardware, the company is faced with creating custom software for the new phone.

According to respected Samsung leaker Ice Universe, the smartphone giant is working with Google to create a priority operating system for the Galaxy X. While Ice Universe doesn’t provide details, at this point we’re assuming the OS will be a highly customized version of Android as opposed to an entirely new operating system.

Design

What will the Samsung Galaxy X look like? Even Samsung may not be sure, and may be working on two designs. One version is longer horizontally when the phone is unfolded while the other is longer vertically. Apparently, the current frontrunner is the vertical version that resembles a flip phone, with a small display on the outside to displays messages and notifications.

Samsung mobile CEO D.J. Koh shed some light on the project in a recent interview with CNET, saying the phone would essentially take the form of a tablet with multi-tasking features that would then fold up into a more portable phone. Koh stressed the phone would not be a gimmick and will be available globally when it’s finally launched.

Concept drawings and patents, such as this one discovered by Let’s Go Digital, may give us an idea of possible designs.

Let’s Go Digital

It shows a smartphone with a display that folds over the back of the phone. The folded panel can be used as a viewfinder for the rear camera or can show unique information or graphics. When folded, it becomes part of the primary display.

Sources close to Samsung, speaking to the Wall Street Journal, say the device features a screen that measures about 7 inches diagonally and can be folded in half — like a wallet. When the phone is folded, the outside shows a small display bar on one side and the other side holds the cameras.

Corroborating the report, a Samsung patent discovered by LetsGoDigital matches the same description. The patent, titled “Foldable Electronic Device Including Hidden Display and Information Display Method Thereof,” illustrates a foldable smartphone with a second display that is partly covered until the device is fully folded — which is when it will activate. From the images, it looks like the display is hidden under the top rear of the device when it’s unfolded and then comes out once it’s closed. While it hasn’t been confirmed, this could be how the hidden display will function.

The hidden display is where you will see information like texts or notifications, whether you’re in portrait or landscape mode. That way, you’ll be able to see important alerts without having to unfold the phone each time. The patent also states the touchscreen will be compatible with an S Pen.

Park Hyung-woo, an analyst at Shinhan Financial in South Korea who spoke to the Korean Times, believes the Galaxy X will have two inside panels forming the 7.3-inch screen when the phone is unfolded, along with one outside panel to use when it’s folded.

According to, the final design for the Galaxy X foldable smartphone was tentatively confirmed in May. In a surprise to absolutely no one, the Galaxy X will apparently have three 3.5-inch OLED screens, according to The Bell — two that form a massive 7-inch screen when unfolded, and a single one on the rear of the device for use when folded.

Screens without bezels, like the ones used on the Galaxy S9, may be used to create a seamless, one-screen look. A recent patent confirmed that Samsung is experimenting with even more bezel-less phones — possibly even a completely bezel-less front with an under-display fingerprint sensor.

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Previous speculative Galaxy X designs

Previous Galaxy X designs showed a massive 7.3-inch OLED screen that folded down into a shape reminiscent of the popular “clamshell” phone designs of the past. The above image shows a Galaxy X that’s less sleek than current smartphone designs, with the back of the phone sporting a curved and wavy design. A whole host of images that appeared to show the Galaxy X came from SamMobile, and Samsung Display registered a patent in 2016 that included diagrams showing a clamshell-like device that resembles a makeup compact, folding out into a traditional rectangular smartphone shape.

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samsung-galaxy-x-patent-04-720x368

Before this, a different patent filed by Samsung showed how a folded and unfolded Galaxy X might operate. As Patently Mobile reports, a user could touch an icon on the edge area of the phone so that the app will be open once the device is unfolded. Multiple user profiles would also be displayed on the edge, allowing multiple users to enter passwords to access information from the device’s edge.

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Name

Now that the Project Valley prototype is no more, what will the production version of Samsung’s first official foldable phone be called? And when will it be released? The Galaxy X has been most commonly used to refer to the phone, but rumors from Bloomberg and The Bell state Samsung uses the code name “Winner” for its coming folding phone. Earlier this year there was a rumor that the phone would be called the Galaxy F, but it seems less likely.

The smartphone’s model number — SM-G888N0 — was posted on a support page on Samsung’s site, and while the page is currently empty and lists no other information, it’s not the first time we’ve seen the number appear. The phone’s model number (with “N0” reportedly denoting that it’s for the South Korean market), was also listed on documents for Bluetooth testing. Then it was referenced in Wi-Fi certification from the Wi-Fi Alliance and in filings submitted to the National Radio Research Agency of the Korea Communications Commission.

Specifications

To date, there’s only one rumor about specs for the upcoming Samsung Galaxy X. The prolific (and usually accurate) Samsung leaker Ice Universe said the upcoming phone will feature a 7nm processor.

In addition to the 7nm processor, the Galaxy X may be a gaming phone. Earlier this year a tweet from @MMDDJ_ said the phone would be gaming focused and  not be called the Galaxy X, Granted there’s a lot of questions surrounding the accuracy of the leak since the leaker doesn’t have an excellent track record, and other, more recent, rumors have no mention of a gaming and refer to it as the Galaxy X.

Updated on November 6, 2018: Tom’s Guide confirmed that Samsung has a “New Galaxy UX” track at the Samsung Developer Conference. 

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