Samsung Galaxy X: What you need to know about Samsung’s foldable phone

Everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy X

(Update: June 29, 2017): Despite a flurry of rumours early on in the year, talk of a Galaxy X smartphone has largely disappeared. Instead, it seems most recent Samsung leaks relate to the upcoming Galaxy Note 8, which is expected to arrive as soon as August. It’s not clear whether the Galaxy X has been culled, or whether it’s simply taking a backseat while Samsung focuses on more pressing ventures.

Alternatively, there may simply be a dearth of leaks due to tight corporate protocol, so it’s important not to read too much into this. Don’t forget that Samsung has shown significant interest in foldable phones in the past, so it’s likely that such a move is still on the agenda.

Rumours of a mysterious foldable smartphone called the Samsung Galaxy X are circulating. But what is it? Is it even real? When might you be able to buy it?

From the latest news and rumours to specs, release date and pricing gossip, our guide reveals all.

Samsung Galaxy X Release Date: What is it, and when does it come out?

For years, we’ve heard talk of a foldable smartphone being built by Samsung. But the past few weeks has seen these rumours up in frequency.

The most recent rumours refer to a device known as the Samsung Galaxy X, although details are still thin on the ground. The working theory is that Samsung has finally managed to manufacture a foldable phone display, and is working on prototype devices to unveil later in 2017.

The story of the Samsung Galaxy X goes back years, so read on for a full account of Samsung’s efforts in the foldable phone space.

Alternatively, here’s a quick breakdown of Galaxy X news and rumours:

  • Samsung Galaxy X Release Date: Recent rumours suggest that foldable handsets built by Samsung will be ready by the end of 2017, and that prototypes are already well into development. However, there’s no firm release date for the supposed Galaxy X smartphone.
  • Samsung Galaxy X Design and Specs: The main rumour is that the phone will fold in some way, potentially using a flexible OLED panel and some kind of segmented design. This design could allow the handset to switch between smartphone and tablet form factors, and perhaps even a wearable option, too. As far as specs go, rumours are thin on the ground – but we’d expect something akin to what we’ve seen from the Samsung Galaxy S8 in terms of hardware.
  • Samsung Galaxy X Price: Considering that Samsung is rumoured to be limiting the initial run of Galaxy X smartphones, it’s likely that the phone would be expensive. That’s almost certainly guaranteed given the likelihood of increased hardware costs, plus the fact that the recently launched Galaxy S8 starts from £689 in the UK. Of course, we’re not even sure the Galaxy X phone exists at this point, so speculating on price is very difficult at this stage.

Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Samsung Galaxy X History – 2011

An early prototype

On May 12, 2011, researchers from South Korea’s Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) revealed that they had designed and built a prototype foldable device.

This prototype featured a display that could be folded in half without resulting in a visible crease in the middle, by using advanced AMOLED screen technology. During tests, the researchers found that brightness at the hinge decreased by just 6% after 100,000 folding/unfolding cycles.

Speaking to Phys.org at the time, HongShik Shim, a researcher at SAIT, said: “Our method has the advantages that mature, high-quality AMOLED display panels already exist. But for real commercialisation, some new processes and new materials must be developed, which takes about 1-2 years.”

Samsung’s concept revealed

Then in December, a video produced by Samsung was posted to YouTube, which depicted a flexible Samsung AMOLED device.

In the video, the device looks just like a thin film of plastic, but it works like a smartphone or tablet, running apps and making video calls. It’s a great example of just how far back Samsung’s foldable phone ambitions stretch.

Check it out in the video below.

Samsung Galaxy X History – 2012

Quirky tablet patent

On May 2, 2012, it emerged that Samsung had filed a patent application for a smartphone that could fold out into a tablet configuration.

Rather than a flexible display of the type we saw in the 2011 concept video, this was simply a dual-screen device that was joined by hinge – a little like a Nintendo DS.

The patent depicted the device as shipping with a stylus/pointer that could be removed from the hinge.

LG G Flex 2
LG’s LG G Flex 2 (2015) smartphone was an early example of a phone with a slightly bent screen

Development ongoing

Fast-forward to November and the Wall Street Journal reported that Samsung was building handsets with flexible displays, and that they were “in the last phase of development”.

Devices carrying the displays were tipped to launch in the first half of 2013, and that the flexible screen tech may actually feature in the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Samsung Galaxy X History – 2013

The Samsung Galaxy Q?

On February 5, 2013, we heard news that Samsung was plotting a folding display phone called the Samsung Galaxy Q.

This handset was tipped to launch at Barcelona’s MWC 2013 convention later in the month, and would reportedly ship under the model number GT-B9150.

Unfortunately, that model number turned out to actually be referencing the Samsung Galaxy HomeSync personal cloud device (2013), and we didn’t see a foldable phone after all. Boo!

Flexible Note 3

In May that same year, it was reported that three different prototypes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 were being tested, including one that featured a flexible screen.

SamMobile cited an unnamed Samsung insider; the report confirmed that we may see the Note 3, featuring the bendy screen tech, land at IFA 2013.

We did eventually get a Galaxy Note 3, but there was no folding screen featured – sorry, folks.

Related: iPhone 8

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
Samsung’s Galaxy Note Edge (2015) was the first time we saw a truly curved screen from Samsung

Patenting a flexible screen

Later that month, it was discovered that Samsung had filed a patent application for a flexible display.

The display was described as being able to detect the various ways users bend the screen, including the folding angle or curvature. This would allow the flexible display to automatically adjust the image so it would be presented accurately.

Another concept video

In autumn, a video produced by Samsung was uploaded to YouTube, depicting a flexible OLED smartphone-cum-tablet concept.

Check it out:

New range: Galaxy F?

On September 25, 2013, Japanese blog Rbmen detailed how Samsung was supposedly planning a new range of flexible-screened smartphones.

This new series of phones was supposed to be called ‘Galaxy F’, but it turned out to be a dud rumour.

Official confirmation of folding phones

But then, on November 6, 2013, Samsung announced that it would be bringing folding display devices to the market at some point in the future. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all the detail we heard at the time.

Samsung Galaxy X History – 2014

Analysts spin rumours

In early 2014, analysts tipped Samsung as plotting a new range of smartphone form factors, including a new Galaxy handset with a three-sided bent display.

Song Jong-ho, an analyst at Seoul-based KDB Daewoo Securities, said: “The bent smartphones will be rolled out as a Galaxy variant with a few million units at the end of this year, initially taking aim at the nice market.”

He continued: “The bent device is the first step toward testing the market and gauging how it will react to foldable smartphones that are to be unveiled in the second half of next year.”

Related: When is Black Friday?

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ Photos 39
Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge (2015) was our first glimpse of a curved edge-to-edge display from Samsung

Galaxy Note 4 getting three-sided display?

Then in late April, a report from ZDNet Korea described how the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 would feature a three-sided display that would let you view your notifications at an angle.

This rumour turned out to be an early glimpse of the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, which launched in 2015 and featured a curved screen on one side. This technology was eventually rolled out on flagship phones with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, which featured a completely edge-to-edge display. And that design trend has continued right to the Samsung Galaxy S8 today.

Samsung champions flexible screens

Towards the end of 2014, Samsung claimed it would be the only manufacturer capable of producing flexible-screen phones during the next 12 months.

Lee Chang-hoon, VP of Samsung Display, said: “We will secure production capacity of 30,000 to 40,000 [flexible displays each month] by the end of next year. There will be no company [except Samsung] that has this great production capacity by 2016.”

He added: “We plan to provide consumers with a product that has a flexible display by the end of the year. However, nothing has been decided on the finished product.”

Samsung Galaxy X History – 2015

Another flexible phone patent

In March of 2015, PatentlyMobile revealed that Samsung had filed for a patent on a new kind of flexible device.

The concept paired a flexible display with a body made from a series of interlocking panels. These panels could unlock and slide when placed under pressure, allowing the phone to flex.

It’s also worth noting that Samsung actually filed for this patent way back in the second quarter of 2014.

Related: Best Android phones

s8plusbeware 21
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ (2017) have retained the curved edge-to-edge ‘Edge’-stye display, but the bezel has been slimmed down – Samsung calls it an ‘Infinity Display’

‘Commercialisation’ possible shortly

On March 24, 2015, Business Korea quoted an unnamed Samsung Display official as saying: “The industry believes that the commercialisation of foldable smartphones will be possible in 2016.”

What is Project Valley?

Then just five days later, SamMobile reported on rumours of a device being built under the codename Project Valley, or Project V.

The report noted that the handset was in “the extremely early stages of development”, and that it could be killed off “at any time”.

It was claimed that Project Valley was a phone built in two parts that could be folded together in the middle.

Project V – coming 2016?

By September, SamMobile was reporting that the Project Valley foldable smartphone would be launched in January 2016.

The handset was reportedly being tested in two hardware configurations: one with a (then) top-end Snapdragon 820 chip, and one with a more middling Snapdragon 620 processor.

Samsung Galaxy X History – 2016

Galaxy X rumours emerge

In late spring, 2016, a SamMobile report citing Korean news sources detailed how Samsung was working on a phone called the ‘Galaxy X’.

This handset was tipped to join the company’s flagship range alongside the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 as soon as 2017.

The Galaxy X smartphone was tipped to be the official name for the Project Valley device that had been reported a year earlier.

According to the report, the Galaxy X would look like a normal smartphone, but would have the ability to fold out to double the size, then more closely resembling a tablet.

Samsung foldable tabelt patent
We’ve seen plenty of foldable phone/tablet patents from Samsung over the past few years

Two new foldable devices incoming?

Then in June, Bloomberg published an article that said Samsung was working on two new devices. One could fold in half “like a cosmetic compact”, while the other would feature a 5-inch display that could be unfurled into an 8-inch tablet.

The report noted that Samsung was planning to showcase the devices in 2017, and suggested that the handsets wouldn’t be marketed under the flagship Galaxy S brand.

Wearable, foldable tablet-phone

On June 30, 2016, a Samsung patent that was filed 18 months earlier was published, detailing a quirky new phone design.

The patent described a handset that could turn into both a wearable and a tablet at a user’s discretion, thanks to a stretchable display panel.

Galaxy Wings?

In September, tech blog GalaxyClub published a telling report about a Samsung patent that depicted a foldable smartphone.

In one of the patent’s supported images, there was a message written on the screen of the concept device, which read:

“Dear Sir or madam! Thank you for purchasing our Galaxy Wings today! Now you can enjoy our virtual keyboard, while having maximum space for writing and reading your emails. Enjoy your time with Galaxy Wings!”

The device pictured appears to be a smartphone-sized object that folds out to offer keyboard extensions on either side, making it look like an elongated tablet crossed with a Bluetooth keyboard. Another image shows the device being bent over into a quarter of a circle, and even a semi-circle to be worn around the wrist.

Foldable tablet with a kickstand patented

At the end of September, Samsung was awarded a design patent that detailed a foldable tablet equipped with a built-in keyboard and kickstand.

The device had three foldable segments that, once opened, revealed a large screen and keyboard.

Related: LG G6 review

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
The curvy Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (2016) was one of Samsung’s most popular handsets of last year

Official foldable phone renders?

Two months later, Samsung blog GalaxyClub revealed supposedly official renders of a foldable smartphone.

The renders depicted a handset that could fold over clam-style, but could still be used normally like a smartphone too. Unfortunately, it was never made clear which regulatory body these supposed patent renders were filed with, so it’s tough to verify their legitimacy.

Another rumour of two phones

Then in December 2016, a report from South Korea’s ETNews described how Samsung was working on two foldable phones, each with a very different design.

According to the report, Samsung was following a “two-track strategy” with the handsets. One device would feature a dual-screen setup that boasted a screen on either side of a hinge, while another would ship with a fully flexible OLED display.

The report also noted that Samsung would first release the former device to gauge consumer response, before deciding whether to push ahead with the flexible OLED option.

The dual-phone was reportedly set for a 2017 release, although supply would be limited to a “small amount” initially.

Samsung Galaxy X History – 2017

Foldable phone rumours heat up

In January 2017, the Korea Herald reported that “sources familiar with the matter” said Samsung would “roll out more than 100,000 units of fold-out devices in the third quarter [of 2017]”.

Samsung was reportedly working on handsets that could fold out to form a 7-inch tablet, as the company found devices that fold inwards were too inconvenient for users. Apparently, Samsung recognised that users wouldn’t want to unfold their phone every time they wanted to use it.

The sources were quoted as saying: “Since the company already secured fold-in phone technology, it was not a big challenge to shift into the fold-out phones.”

Importantly, the report noted that Samsung was still undecided over whether or not it would unveil the device in 2017.

Foldable screens coming to MWC 2017?

In February, just before Mobile World Congress, South Korea’s ETNews said that Samsung Electronics and Samsung Display would be demonstrating a folding smartphone prototype at Barcelona’s MWC 2017 trade show later that month.

The article noted that Samsung wouldn’t be showing the phone to the general public, but instead would be demonstrating it to select invitees only.

The device was, apparently, able to fold inwards in the manner of a book.

Foldable phone concept
Samsung released a video in 2013 depicting a foldable smartphone-cum-tablet device

Samsung enters ‘final stage of development’ – apparently

In March, after MWC 2017 was over, a follow-up report by ETNews suggested that Samsung was working on “the final step of development” of a foldable smartphone, with a view to building a working prototype in the third quarter of 2017.

The report suggested that Samsung showed an early concept of the device to a few select mobile network providers, and was now plotting to build “thousands of prototypes” during the summer, which will be used to test quality and performance internally.

Samsung was also said to be hoping to provide some prototypes to major mobile networks, with the aim of mass-producing such a phone in 2018.

Chinese leaker tips Galaxy X foldable handset

On April 2, 2017, a supposed leak posted to Twitter by a Chinese tipster suggested that we’d see the Galaxy X foldable handset released before the Galaxy Note 8.

We’re already expecting the Galaxy Note 8 to launch later this year, at some point in August or one of the months following. According to the tipster, the Galaxy X will launch in Q3, while the Galaxy Note 8 will arrive in Q4.

Bendy phone rumours shot down

But just two days later, a Samsung Display engineer poured cold water on rumours of a bendable Galaxy X phone coming in 2017.

At the Display TechSalon held in Seoul, Kim Tae-woong said: “Because the bezel-free display [on the Galaxy S8] currently sells well, we still have enough time to develop foldable display. The technology is expected to be mature around 2019.”

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What would you like to see from the Samsung Galaxy X? Let us know in the comments.

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