Samsung's First 5G Smartphone Unfolds Into A Tablet
Seeking to rev up demand in the slumping smartphone market, Samsung on Wednesday unveiled a folding handset, becoming the first major manufacturer to offer the feature.
The South Korean giant's Galaxy Fold, unveiled at a San Francisco event, serves as a smartphone with a 4.6-inch HD+ Super AMOLED (21:9) display and unfolds to become a tablet of 7.3 inches withQXGA+ (QHD+) Dynamic AMOLED (4.2:3) Infinity Flex display.
"We are giving you a device that doesn't just define a new category, it defies category," said Samsung's Justin Denison at the event.
The Fold will be available April 26 starting at US$1,980, the company said.
The move comes with the smartphone market in its worst-ever decline with consumers keeping devices longer and waiting for new innovations.
Samsung made the announcement on the home turf of rival Apple, with the two giants battling for the premium segment of the market.
Denison said the Fold is "a one of a kind luxury device with immersive visuals" and offers "a truly next generation experience" that enables multitasking on its large screen.
With the increase in size, the Galaxy Fold will also boast a total of six cameras—three on its rear (a 16-megapixel camera and two 12-megapixel cameras), a ten-megapixel cover camera, and two cameras (eight and ten-megapixels) inside the fold.
The tech giant said the Fold, which packs 12GB of RAM and a high-end 7nm processor, can open up to three active apps simultaneously on the display. It also comes with 512 internal storage and support for Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 3.0.
Running on a 4,380mAh battery, the phone can be charged wirelessly, or unfold to become a charging mat for another device with Wireless PowerShare.
And for the icing on the cake, each Galaxy Fold will come bundle with a pair of wireless Galaxy Buds, which are able to charge wireless from the phone and boasts quality sound tuned by AKG.
The phone will be available in four colourways—Space Silver, Cosmos Black, Martian Green and Astro Blue.
A new mobile era
Samsung also announced its new Galaxy S10 handset, upgrading its current line of flagship handsets.
"We are pushing beyond the limits of today's technology to inspire a new generation of smartphones and recharge growth for our industry," said DJ Koh, head of mobile communications at Samsung Electronics.
"For those who say everything possible has already been done, I say open your mind and get ready for the dawn of a new mobile era. Buckle your seatbelt, the future is about to begin."
He said the Galaxy Fold was designed "for those that want to experience what a premium foldable device can do, beyond the limitations of a traditional smartphone."
The S10 handsets will offer improved color display with active matrix organic light emitting (AMOLED) technology, improved battery life and upgraded cameras.
The S10 will be available in three versions with the S10e starting at US$749, and the largest version, S10 Plus at US$999, starting March 8.
The Samsung Fold is aimed at popularizing new kinds of displays in a future where devices and be more easily folded or rolled up.
(Related: Google Rolls Out Night Sight Mode To Pixel Smartphones)
The Galaxy Fold won't be the first folding smartphone on the market. however. Earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, Chinese startup Royole showed off what it claimed is the first foldable smartphone, which can fit into a pocket but unfold into a full-sized tablet computer, which is available in China and the US for US$1,588
Huawei and Xiaomi are also likely to unveil their foldable handsets during the Mobile World Congress 2019, at the end of the month.
Additional reporting by Chloe Pek.