SINGAPORE: Tech giant Samsung is set to unveil its long-rumoured foldable smartphone during an annual developer conference in November, while its line-up for 2019 will include the tenth Galaxy S device and a 5G-compatible handset.
In an interview with Channel NewsAsia on Monday (Sep 24), Mr Koh Dong Jin, head of Samsung's global mobile business, confirmed that the foldable phone – a first for the South Korean electronics behemoth – will be ready soon.
The company later added that details about the widely anticipated device, largely seen by market watchers as a way to help reinvigorate growth in Samsung’s mobile division, will be revealed at the upcoming two-day Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco.
Acknowledging that it will mark a technological breakthrough for Samsung, Mr Koh said: “A foldable phone will have lots of implication and impact for components, such as batteries and displays.”
“You can use the smartphone without unfolding it but when you unfold it to see something, it becomes like a tablet,” he explained, before adding that the new device will differ from a tablet without elaborating.
“But if they unfold it and it’s the same as today’s tablet, I don't believe that customers will love it.”
The mobile chief did not reveal if the phone will work like a traditional flip phone or feature bendable screens, though it is widely expected to be the latter – especially after Samsung Display, a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics, said in July that its newly developed unbreakable, bendable screen has passed safety testing in the United States.
However, he said he hopes that the foldable phone can become a “fashionable item” when launched, attracting users as diverse as young millennials to business leaders.
“When they have it, I want to make them proud of it.”
Another new product that Samsung is hoping to make an impression with is the tenth iteration of its top-tier Galaxy S series scheduled for release next year.
2019 also marks a decade since Samsung's first Galaxy phone, the i7500, which also represented the company’s entry into the Android smartphone market.
Again being tight-lipped on details, Mr Koh said the S10 will have “significant” design changes that are “meaningful” innovation, instead of “gimmicky features”.
“Samsung has always emphasised on relentless innovation but that should be meaningful to our end-consumers.
“The focus of the S10 is the same – to make customers happy – but it’s the tenth anniversary, so how can we make it more meaningful or what would be more historical?”
The 57-year-old, who had worked on the Galaxy S1 when he was part of Samsung’s mobile research and development team, added: “When customers hold the S10, I’ll like to hear comments like ‘Wow, this is the 10-year anniversary product of Samsung’.”
Speculation thus far has tipped features, such as a triple rear camera, ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint sensors and faster updates, for the S10. When asked to comment, Mr Koh would only say: “Rumours are rumours.”
Meanwhile, there are also plans to roll out a new smartphone that is compatible with 5G networks – an area where Samsung intends to pour investments into as it searches for new products to power growth.
Mr Koh said the device will be ready by next March or April, though the launch is likely to target specific markets, such as the United States and South Korea, that are already gearing up for the lightning-fast next generation of wireless services.
The 5G-compatible handset will not be part of the Galaxy S series, he added.
This is because the components will “need more time” before they can be ready for mass production, which means prices of these 5G phones will likely be higher in the initial roll-out.