Samsung, flexible smartphone official: here’s what it looks like

It's not the Galaxy X that some were expecting, but a prototype made to showcase the Infinity Flex Display, the foldable screen that Samsung will launch soon

It's been talked about for months and now it seems to be on its way: the first flexible Samsung smartphone that folds like a notebook (codenamed "Winner") was shown to the public during the Samsung Developer Conference 2018 in San Francisco. This display unfolds in portrait orientation, weighs about 200 grams, and features what Samsung calls the Infinity Flex Display.

It doesn't feature two screens side-by-side along the hinge line but a single display made from an impact-resistant adhesive polymer that's 45 percent thinner than previous technologies, mounted on a flexible stand that's in turn installed on the connector board. The main screen is 7.3 inches, with a resolution of 1536 x 2152 pixels (420 pixels per inch) and can be folded "hundreds of thousands" of times, according to Samsung. There's then a 4.58-inch secondary screen with 840 x 1960 pixels  (420 pixels per inch) resolution that activates when the main display is folded. There are no other technical details about the hardware, nor when this phone might be marketed. The Korea Times newspaper speculates a price around $1,850. In short, those expecting the Samsung Galaxy X were a bit disappointed.

How Samsung's flexible smartphone works

Samsung worked directly with Google to optimize Android for the foldable screen and designed a specific user interface for this phone's form factor. When the foldable display is open, the device is used like a tablet, with advanced multitasking features, including Multi-Active Window that lets you run up to three apps at once. When opened or closed, the App Continuity feature seamlessly transfers apps in use from the smaller display to the larger display and vice versa. This collaboration could decree the success of this device: in the past, other foldable devices such as ZTE's Axon M, Kyocera's Echo, Sony Tablet P and NEC's Medias have received a cold reception due to the lack of apps capable of taking advantage of the specific form factor.

For developers, it's too expensive to optimize apps for devices that have very low sales volumes. Samsung, therefore, is working on an emulator that allows them to test app behavior with both an open and folded display and is working closely with a select group of partners, including Flipboard, to build custom user experiences. "The foldable display provides the foundation for a new kind of mobile experience," said DJ Koh, president of Samsung's mobile division, "We are excited to work with developers on this new platform to create new value for our customers.