Samsung finally revealed the first official details about its long-rumoured foldable smartphone on Wednesday.
The phone, which is currently nameless, is essentially a clamshell device. There is a regular display on the front for standard smartphone use when the device is closed.
The magic happens when you open – or unfold – the device. The interior opens like a book to provide one seamless 7.3-inch (18.5cm) screen, transforming the phone into a tablet.
Before Samsung showed off the device at the event, it kept the phone in a square case to conceal its design.
Samsung senior vice president Justin Denison said, “Trust me, there’s a device inside here [the case] and it is stunning.”
The basics, however, are clear. The device looks like a standard smartphone when closed. It opens like a book to reveal another 7.3-inch display, which would be one of the largest phone screens ever released. It will be big enough to run three apps side by side, up from two on the Note 9, Samsung’s most-recent large smartphone.
The company said the display can be folded hundreds of thousands of times.
The foldable display itself is called “Infinity Flex.” To create its Infinity Flex display, Samsung said it needed to invent and use new materials to make a display that can fold an unfold “hundreds of thousands of times” without breaking or becoming damaged.
Samsung also worked with Google to create a special version of Android designed around a foldable display design. One of the highlighted features announced at Samsung’s event was “App Continuity” that allows you to use an app when the phone is folded and continue using it when you unfold the phone in tablet format. The app would also enlarge itself to fill the tablet-format display.
Samsung plans to release a simulator to help developers write and test apps for the foldable screen and will host sessions with developers to teach them how to write software for the device. The company is working with Google and its Android division on the underlying software to power the foldable device. Glen Murphy, director of design for Android at Google, spoke at the conference.
Samsung also mentioned its “Multi-active Window” feature that would let you have up to three open and usable apps on the unfolded tablet display.
Little else about the device was shared by Samsung, apart from confirmation that the company will begin mass production in the “coming months.” Denison didn’t make it clear whether a phone with the Infinity Flex display will begin mass production in the coming months, or if only the display itself will soon be mass produced. There’s still no word on pricing, design, specs, or final availability.
The software will officially launch on the Galaxy S9 and Note 9 in January.