Samsung Electronics Co.,suffering a handset sales slide,revealed a foldable-screen smartphone that folds like a book and opens up to tablet size.
At a developer showcase event on Wednesday,Samsung said the phone,which is 7.3 inches when opened would be ready for mass production in the coming months.It boasts a second, smaller display on the outside – which is called a cover window -allowing users to check email and perform other basics tasks when closed.
Samsung,which ships one of every five phones globally,is eyeing a splashy device to help lift sales, as consumers hold on to their handsets longer and lower-cast Chinese rivals gain strength.
Last week,the world’s largest smartphone maker reported its third quarter mobile profits had nosed dived by a third.
The South Korean tech company needs to get the foldable phone right to reverse declines in profit for its mobile division and restore some of the cachet its brand has lost lost to Apple Inc.
Foldable phones promise the screen of a small tablet in a pocket sized-device.
Drave Bruke, vice president of engineering for Google’s Android software platform,told a Google conference in California that Samsung planned to introduce a new Android-based device early next year.
“We expect to see foldable products from several Android manufacturers”,he said.
Developer Joshua Clark,who was at the conference ,said Samsung needs to sell the technology to its competitors for the product to be widely adopted.
Analyst Bob ODonnell with Technalysis Research said that while the bendable screen provided a wow factor,shoppers may not like the thickness of the folded phone or its price tags.
Samsung is among a handful of developers working on foldable smart phones.China’s Huawei Technology co Ltd has said it planned to launch a 5G smartphone with a foldable screen in mid-2019.
As the final design is still being decided,the South Korean technology giant showed off the foldable display- which is called the “Infinity Flex”-with the lights dimmed.
Justine Denison,a Samsung senior vice president of mobile product marketing,demonstrated on a prototype how the phone could run three apps simultaneously when opened.
Samsung also unveiled plans to open up Bixby, its homegrown virtual assistance,two-third party developers for the first time.Like Amazon.com Inc’s Alexa,Bixby needs outside voice-app developers to create functions-which Samsung calls “capsules”-to popularize the technology.
These capsules which the Journal reported last week,would allow users to give voice prompts to stream music,order pizza or hail a taxi.
A late comer to the virtual assistance race, Samsung’s Bixby enjoys an advantage over rivals because the company sells more than half a billion televisions,phones and home appliances a year.The company has pledged all its devices will have Bixby by 2020.