Your next smartphone may fold in half like a notebook. Samsung is expected to release a new touchscreen smartphone with a foldable plastic display, according to a series of reports from rumor blogs. The company has promised to have functional foldable devices in 2016, and the latest rumors suggest that its first foldable smartphone could be released as early as January 2016.
In a report from SamMobile, a trusted Samsung rumor blog, anonymous sources suggest that the foldable phone is currently being tested in China. Under the codename Project Valley, the company is reportedly testing two hardware configurations: One is running with the Snapdragon 620 processor and the other is running with a faster Snapdragon 820 processor. The device will likely feature 3GB of RAM, a microSD card slot, and a non-removable battery.
The report also suggests that Samsung could be using its concept smartphone as a testbed for the Snapdragon 820 processor. Many mobile technology experts believe that the Snapdragon 820 processor will also be used in the Samsung’s next-generation flagship device, the Galaxy S7, which is expected in February 2016.
Samsung has teased its bendable screen technology for several years at major technology conferences. At CES 2013, Samsung executives stood in front of a crowded theater to show off their new Youm flexible OLED displays. The company said it was able to make a high-resolution display on extremely thin plastic instead of glass, so the display can be bent to extreme angles without shattering. For anyone that’s ever broken a smartphone screen, the appeal of a bendable screen is obvious.
This isn’t the first time a company has tried to make a bendable touchscreen device. Microsoft famously pursued bendable screens when it constructed its Courier tablet, which was never released to the public. In early demonstrations of the concept, the Courier was the size of a tablet and was meant to be used like a notebook. The Courier was built to compete against the Apple iPad, though it never saw the light of day.
Although it’s still too early to say whether Samsung will actually release its foldable concept smartphone, there are plenty of people who hope that the rumors are true. Following the announcement of the iPhone 6S, many technologists have suggested that the smartphone industry is plateauing. New and interesting designs could proliferate. For now, we’ll just have to sit back and enjoy the concept demos.