After years of rumors and speculation, a new report suggests that the era of foldable smartphones may soon be upon us.
Samsung is widely rumored to be working on its own foldable dual-display smartphone, which has long been nicknamed the Samsung Galaxy X (or Galaxy F) by the blogosphere. That device could see a release sometime next year, according to the latest rumors.
But the South Korea tech juggernaut is also already looking to sell its foldable display technology to its competitors. A recent report in ETNews claims that Samsung Display is currently in talks to supply foldable smartphone panels to Chinese-based Android makers Xiaomi and Oppo.
That move would be unusual for Samsung, which typically saves its newest technology for its own products for a period of time before rolling them out to the public.
On the other hand, by introducing a foldable smartphone and then immediately supplying those display panels to other handset makers, Samsung could create a new market segment that is largely dependent on its own display business, Android Authority points out.
It’s still a risky move, as other foldable smartphones could eat into the Galaxy X’s market share. But Samsung could readily become the sole supplier of foldable display panels for most, if not all, Android smartphones next year. That, of course, would significantly boost its Display subsidiary.
Korean research firm Stone Partners estimates that foldable display panel shipments could reach 14 million and be worth about $2.67 billion by 2021. The South Korean tech giant has a lot to gain by offering its own technology to the wider Android ecosystem.
Samsung does have a history of being a key supply chain giant, however. Just look at Apple, who relies on the South Korea company for its OLED display panels in newer iPhones.
Apple, for its part, is also rumored to be working on foldable display technology. The company has applied for a slew of patents that detail different mechanisms and applications related to flexible or foldable smartphone displays.
In any case, it’s starting to look like 2019 will be the year of the foldable smartphone — even if Samsung is the only firm to field such a device at the time.