The foldable smartphone that Samsung’s been working on for the last few years could become a reality soon. According to Korean news site ETNews, Samsung will apparently start mass producing the “smartlet” this year (as we call it) for a 2017 release.
What the heck is a smartlet? It’s a smartphone with a folding screen that can turn into a tablet when you unfold it. In a call with investors in January, director of Samsung’s Display division Lee Chang-hoon said “Development of Foldable OLED is taking place according to our plan…We are planning on mass-production and release this product by discussing with out partners.”
Now, it looks like Chang-hoon is specifically referring to a foldable display here rather than a foldable smartphone, which doesn’t confirm that Samsung is working on a foldable smartphone. Only that it’s working on a foldable display.
Yet, ETNews claims spoke with a Samsung source familiar with the foldable device. There’s still no name for the foldable device yet, but ETNews believes it’ll have a 5-inch screen when it’s in smartphone mode and 7-inch tablet when you unfold the screen.
It’s still unclear, but it seems like the device could work like a book, where the open book could be the 7-inch tablet, and the book’s front cover is the 5-inch smartphone screen. You might need to reorient how you hold the smartlet when you fold it to use like a smartphone.
The only screens capable of bending and functioning at the same time are OLED screens. Samsung has been using OLED displays for it’s curved HDTVs, as well as the Galaxy S6 Edge and S7 Edge displays, which curve on the side edges. Why a folding smartphone that can turn into a tablet? Well, why not? It could mean you only need to buy one gadget that adjusts its screen size depending on what you need.