Samsung will start taking pre-orders for its hotly-anticipated flexible Galaxy Fold late next month in the US, with UK pre-orders starting on May 3, 2019. But the foldable flagship, which is set to cost €2,000 ($1,980), is just the beginning of Samsung's bendable ambitions.
According to a new patent, filed last week with the World Intellectual Property Organisation and unearthed by technology blog LetsGoDigital (opens in new tab), Samsung is hard at work on a futuristic new smartphone that can wrap around your wrist to be worn like a smartwatch. To do this, it will use a threaded metal chassis, like those seen in some existing watch wristbands.
The flexible OLED display on the wristworn smartphone – a technology that Samsung has branded Infinity Flex – will only bend in a single direction. Unlike the Galaxy Fold, there will be no need for a fold, since the device only needs to close around the circumference of your wrist. According to the patent, Samsung will use magnets at each end of the smartphone to keep it locked in place on your wrist.
Illustrations filed with the patent show a SIM card tray at the top of the device, with a USB-C port to handle syncing and charging at the opposite end. Samsung has also included volume buttons on the left hand-side of the chassis, as well as dual rear-facing cameras with no camera bump (unlike the latest generation of Galaxy S devices, which are still slightly raised from the body of the phone).
LetGoDigital (opens in new tab) has mocked-up a series of high-resolution renders based on the technical drawings filed with the patent to the World Intellectual Property Organisation. It shows how the device will purportedly look wrapped around your wrist, and when it's completely unfurled to watch movies, play games, text friends.
Most Samsung-branded smartphones already offer some limited fitness features, like step tracking and heart-rate monitoring, so it makes sense to let users wrap the handset around their wrist and avoid doubling up with an extra Galaxy-branded fitness band or smartwatch.
While the latest foldable proposition from Samsung might seem like the kind of futuristic device we'd sooner see in the next Star Trek film than sitting on the shelves of our local Currys PC World, it's actually not as far-fetched as it might seem.
In fact, Nubia unveiled a device with a very similar design at the Mobile World Congress tradeshow in Barcelona last month. Dubbed Nubia Alpha, the device has a 4.01-inch OLED screen that wraps around your wrist. Like the upcoming Samsung wearable, the Nubia Alpha supports mobile connectivity too.
It also sounds like Nokia-branded Morph Concept unveiled on February 25, 2008 at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York City. The device had a wraparound, translucent display that Nokia said would "open up an entirely new spectrum of possibilities". Nokia envisioned built-in solar absorption to charge the device, something that is not part of the vision presented by Samsung in its patent.
We have already seen a torrent of flexible screens from the likes of Samsung, Huawei and Royole. Although it's currently not clear what the rear case could be made from, Samsung could use a flexible polymer with metal segments.
As always, it's worth taking these patents with a healthy pinch of salt. Many technology companies patent new technologies that never make it beyond the four walls of the R&D department. However, with Samsung seemingly planning two more folding phones to launch later this year, it's certainly possible this could be the successor the Galaxy Watch Active announced at Galaxy Unpacked next year.
Lead Image Credit: LetsGoDigital (opens in new tab)