After months of rumors, speculations, leaks, concept images, patent illustrations and what not, we finally got our first official look at the Samsung Galaxy X, the South Korean giant’s next flagship smartphone that folds up like a paperback.
Five years in the making, the device is both smartphone and tablet, bundled into a foldable package that you can easily slip into your pocket – thanks to the ground-breaking Infinity Flex Display technology.
Unveiled at the company’s annual developers’ conference in San Francisco on Nov 7, the prototype device opens up to reveal a 7.3-inch display on the inside, designed to serve as a tablet capable of running up to three applications simultaneously, using a feature that Samsung chooses to call multi-active window.
Not only can you multi-task with multiple apps, but you can also browse, watch TV or movies, and do everything else that you would normally do on a regular tablet.
And, as soon as you fold it up, it transforms into a smartphone with one side of the device serving as a separate “cover display.”
“When it’s open, it’s a tablet offering a big-screen experience,” said Justin Denison, Samsung’s SVP of mobile product marketing, at the Wednesday event. “When closed, it’s a phone that fits neatly inside your pocket.”
All this while, it had been a neck and neck between Samsung and Huawei in so far as being the first to reveal such a device is concerned, but a dark horse called Royole came from behind and won the foldable race, taking the game away from under their noses.
An unsung California-based start-up, Royole launched its FlexPai smartphone on Oct 31, which not only unfolds to reveal a bigger 7.8-inch high-definition tablet display, but also folds up to become a smartphone with not one, not two, but three separate smaller screens on the front, back, and spine of the device.
No wonder the company has laid claim to creating the “world’s first commercial foldable smartphone with flexible display.”
Coming back to the Samsung scheme of things, the company chose not to reveal the design of the device as of now, intentionally keeping the lights dimmed during the presentation to keep it obscure and highlight only the Infinity Flex Display.
So committed was Samsung to keeping the design elements all hush-hush that Denison wasted no time in tucking the device back into his pocket as soon as he was done with showing off the display, which was not more than a twenty-second demo.
“We’ve disguised some elements of the design but trust me, there’s a device inside here and it is stunning,” he said.
And, it’s not just the design that’s shrouded in secrecy, as Samsung has not been very forthcoming about the timeline for the device’s release or its branding, although there is talk that the device could be called Samsung Infinity-V.
For now, let’s just be content with Galaxy X.
The device will have Google’s Android support, as will other upcoming smartphones with bendable form factor that Samsung prefers to refer to as “foldables.”
According to Dave Burke, Google’s VP of engineering, the company is “enhancing Android to take advantage of this new form factor with as little work as necessary.”
Speaking at the company’s Android Developer Summit, Burke said that the company was working closely with Samsung to help it launch the Galaxy X sometime next year.
We just announced support for foldables at #AndroidDevSummit, a new form factor coming next year from Android partners.
Android apps run seamlessly as the device folds, achieving this form factor's chief feature: screen continuity. pic.twitter.com/NAfOmCOY26
— Android Developers (@AndroidDev) November 7, 2018
In order to scale apps seamlessly across smartphones and tabs, Google is encouraging Android app developers to create multiple app layouts and assets to cater to different screen sizes and resolutions.
So, all they’ll need to do to make an app compatible with foldables is add a new layout.
“This new form factor is therefore simply adding new use cases to this existing pattern,” Google’s director of product management Sagar Kamdar told The Verge.
“[We’re] exploring many different ways to ensure a seamless foldables experience for users. More to come, but nothing to announce today,” Kamdar said.
“You can think of the device as both a phone and a tablet,” says Burke. “Broadly, there are two variants — two-screen devices and one-screen devices. When folded, it looks like a phone, fitting in your pocket or purse.
The defining feature for this form factor is something we call screen continuity.”
The “screen continuity” feature will enable apps to respond to the changing screens as the device folds and unfolds, just like they do when you switch between portrait and landscape orientations on your smartphone.
Speaking about the device in October, Samsung’s mobile chief D.J. Koh told CNET that before the company released a foldable device it was important for it to be “meaningful” to the customer.
”When we deliver a foldable phone, it has to be really meaningful to our customer,” Koh said.
“If the user experience is not up to my standard, I don’t want to deliver those kind of products.”
Although nothing was disclosed about the internals of the device, rumor has it that the Samsung Galaxy X will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, with 6GB of RAM and 256 GB of integrated storage.
Not much is known about the price, as well, except that it’s not going to be cheap by any stretch of the imagination.
Just to give you an idea of what to expect in terms of pricing, Royole’s FlexPai is priced in the $1,300 range.
SAMSUNG Galaxy X Official Trailer 2018