Samsung is working hard on getting the kinks out of foldable phones.

Samsung Electronics and Samsung Display are working on “developing foldable smartphones that fold and unfold [using a] single flexible OLED [organic light-emitting diode] display, according to a report at Korea IT News. Those smartphones would have designs with panels that fold “outwardly."

 

Not your father’s Motorola flip phone

This isn’t a Motorola flip phone. The foldable devices Samsung is eying have screens that fold in half or expand from a smartphone into a tablet. 

This is a big step up from the fixed curved displays available today from Samsung on its Galaxy S8.

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“Foldable smartphones have been technically possible for quite a while,” Raymond Soneira, president of display testing firm DisplayMate Technologies, told Fox News.

“For the last several years both Samsung and LG have been showing flexible, bendable, and rollable OLED displays in their private suites at CES and at SID’s [Society for Information Display] Display Week conference,” he added.

Production hurdle

The first hurdle is mass producing foldable displays.

“One challenging issue has always been switching from a rigid and hard cover glass protecting the current smartphones to a flexible and durable plastic cover protecting the flexible display,” Soneira said. “It needs to have superior optical properties and low reflectance like glass, and then also survive 50,000 or more opening and closing cycles.”

But it's still unknown if consumers are interested in such a phone. 

“Technical issues aside, whether consumers will want to return to a clamshell style smartphone is the great unknown,” Soneira added.

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To that end, Samsung is working on what is described in the report as a “dual-screen smartphone” as part of “Project Valley.”

The goal of the “project is to gather [a] variety of ideas on how regular consumers can use foldable Smartphones that are not familiar to them and to understand…necessary technologies,” the report said. "This prototype is not made of a foldable panel but is made up...two flat displays connected to each other."

Gauging consumer interest is critical at this stage because the technology has actually been around for a while. Soneira tested a display back in 2013 from Samsung that can be bent at will in your hand.

“I was able to bend and adjust the display in any direction or way and to any degree that I wanted,” he wrote at the time.

Samsung declined to comment.