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Report: Samsung Working on Clamshell-Style Foldable Phone

ExtremeTech

As Samsung struggles to bring the Galaxy Fold to market, the company is reportedly already working on a new foldable phone with a familiar form factor. According to Bloomberg, Samsung plans to launch a clamshell phone with a more durable flexible OLED. This phone should cost less than the nearly $2,000 Fold, and it will offer a compact square form factor when closed. Clearly, Samsung is counting on the nostalgia factor. 

So, why leave the Fold in the dust already? Clearly, the price is the main stumbling block for the Fold, guaranteeing it won’t sell many units. Even the best flat phones are barely half as expensive, and the Fold got plenty of negative press after several early review units failed after several days of use. The Fold is also a giant brick of a phone thanks to the tablet-like 7.3-inch folding OLED. It also leverages new Android features that developers have barely acknowledged. It will look and feel like an experiment. 

Samsung is said to be working with designer Thom Brown to make its new foldable a device that has broader appeal than the Galaxy Fold. The chassis will be thinner than the Fold, making it easier to drop in a pocket. When folded, it will be roughly square. When open, it will have a standard smartphone display ratio. Therefore, developers won’t have to fiddle with multi-window features just to make their apps work properly on the phone. 

While the smartphone market in most markets has moved to the flat glass slab, there are still some places where clamshell phones never died. It’s common for companies like Samsung and Sharp to make giant Android-powered flip phones for Japan and Korea. Those phones have a single internal display, though. Samsung’s rumored foldable would include a large 6.7-inch OLED panel covering both “halves” of the flip. Samsung is reportedly exploring a new generation of flexible glass that’s just 3 percent as thick as conventional Gorilla Glass on smartphones. This could avoid some of the durability issues expected with plastic-wrapped foldable OLEDs. 

A rumored Motorola phone may have a similar form factor to the phone Samsung is working on.

The report says this phone will include a hole-punch camera at the top of the inner display. There will also be a pair of main sensors on the back. However, those cameras face front when the clamshell is closed. Assuming there’s a small external screen like the clamshells of old, users should be able to take higher-quality selfies when the phone is closed. 

Samsung has refused to comment on the report, which isn’t surprising. It will re-launch the Galaxy Fold in the coming weeks, so it doesn’t want to talk about a potentially better, cheaper foldable right now.

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September 4th 2019, 8:28 am
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