Sam­sung’s new fold­able phone

Nelson Mail - - Weekend Technology - Michael Liedtke

The smart­phone in­dus­try has been search­ing for a break­through to re­vive a mar­ket mired in an in­no­va­tion lull and a sales slump. There’s now a po­ten­tial cat­a­lyst on the hori­zon.

Sam­sung and sev­eral ri­vals are pre­par­ing to roll out new re­designed de­vices with flex­i­ble screens that can be folded in half with­out break­ing.

That feat could make the de­vices more ver­sa­tile for work and plea­sure, by in­creas­ing screen space to the size of a mini-tablet and fold like a wal­let so they can revert to the size of reg­u­lar phones.

‘‘Ev­ery­one has been think­ing about the same ques­tion: ‘What’s next? Is there noth­ing more from a smart­phone’?’’ said Bill Liu, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Roy­ole Corp, a small Sil­i­con Val­ley com­pany that un­veiled a fold­able-screen phone last week in China, where it will go on sale next month.

The con­cept of fold­able-screen phones is about to get much broader ex­po­sure now that Sam­sung ap­pears fi­nally ready to re­lease one.

In an in­di­ca­tion of how dif­fi­cult it is to make a flex­i­ble screen that’s also durable, Sam­sung first an­nounced its plans to build a fold­ing-screen phone five years ago.

It wasn’t un­til Thurs­day, though, that Sam­sung fi­nally pro­vided a glimpse of what it’s been work­ing on.

‘‘We have been liv­ing in a world where the size of a screen could only be as large as the de­vice it­self,’’ said Justin Deni­son, Sam­sung’s se­nior vice-pres­i­dent of mo­bile prod­uct mar­ket­ing.

‘‘We have just en­tered a new di­men­sion.’’

Ex­cept for a fleet­ing look at a de­vice he held in a hand, Deni­son pro­vided scant in­for­ma­tion about the phone.

Sam­sung says it will be ready to hit the mar­ket at some point next year. It’s not even clear whether flex­i­ble-screen phones will have mass ap­peal, es­pe­cially when the bendy de­vices are ex­pected to cost more than US$1000 (NZ$1473).

Roy­ole, for in­stance, ex­pects to sell its fold­able-screen phone – the FlexPai – for at least NZ$1900 once it gets to the United States – some­thing that won’t hap­pen un­til next year, at the ear­li­est. –

AP

Justin Deni­son, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent of Mo­bile Prod­uct Devel­op­ment, shows off the In­fin­ity Flex Dis­play of Sam­sung’s fold­ing smart­phone.

AP

Roy­ole Corp’s FlexPai smart­phone is due to be re­leased soon in China.

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