The short answer is “probably not”. Samsung will officially unveil its flagship Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 smartphones along with other devices such as the Galaxy Watch 5 series and Galaxy Buds 2 Pro at the Galaxy Unpacked event. There was no whiff of the word “rollable” in relation to the event.
What is there I was It was rumored in the spring about a special device called “N4” or “Project Diamond” not related to the Flip 4 and Fold 4 that may or may not appear in Unpacked. It may have been described as a foldable device rather than a rollable device, but it has been agreed that it probably won’t go on sale this year.
Before we go too far talking about the “foldable smartphone”, we shouldn’t lead you down the wrong path in what to expect.
As with any good company with great teams of designers and engineers, Samsung still makes its presence known in the room. SamMobile reported one of its patents in April that depicts a possible foldable phone design. Samsung also demonstrated rotatable displays at the Information Display Association’s Demonstration Week in May (via Android Authority) with some prototypes designed similar to what the above patents envision.
These so-called “Flex Slideable” form factors feature an extendable chassis that may display all or a smaller portion of the screen when the device shrinks – the slider section inside will store the unused portion of the panel.
Ultimately, though, we’re not confident that Samsung will have a finished product for perishable smartphones. There are a number of stages in the development and production processes of any new product where intelligence can more easily leak out. The lack of that information suggests a lot of nothing.
One of the biggest engineering hurdles concerns the expansion and contraction of the device. With internal hardware designed to fit the smallest possible iteration of the expandable shape, we look to challenges in wiring between parts (more wires, more failure risk, lower performance), durability of actual components, and the thermocouple among others. But from what we can tell, this appears to be Samsung’s as well as broader competitors’ approach to incorporating foldable screens into smartphones, and it’s a safe bet that a foldable Flex or phablet (or both) will eventually come.
We wouldn’t be surprised, though, if one of these devices appeared in Unpacked. Companies should always do marketing, so this should come as no surprise. Oppo and LG were the earliest to launch tangible rollable concepts in 2021. However, the Oppo phone did not meet the company’s lifecycle goal of overcoming 200,000 hardware expansions and contractions during the testing phase (via The Verge). And don’t forget that LG Mobile abandoned its business last April.
Sure, Apple and Chinese display maker TCL may have their own intellectual property, but the trails on their products haven’t been exciting to follow, especially considering that neither has bothered to enter the foldable phone market yet, let alone Google.
Samsung has a great opportunity to shine a light on the public with a sexy temptation for what it thinks a “foldable phone” should be. Will it cost a lot? surely. But these details are far less than many want to know: When will it come? If the company caught up with this moment during Unpacked on August 10, we wouldn’t be surprised. Alternatively, if it fails to do so, we may have a problem here.