Foldables have come a long way since the first generation of Galaxy Fold which infamously ran into such difficulties with reviewers that it was delayed to allow Samsung to make changes to its construction.
After that false start, things have gone pretty smoothly. While devices with bending screens are inherently more expensive to repair, Samsung claims that its foldables are good for at least 200,000 folding and unfolding cycles — or over 100 uses every day for five years.
Nonetheless, there’s always room for improvement, and it sounds like Samsung is planning something along those lines for the upcoming Galaxy Z Flip 6 and Z Fold 6.
There’s not much else to go on, other than the fact it’s related to a “foldable OLED display panel” and a “foldable smartphone”. Indeed, it could stretch to other devices in time, with the terms “foldable wearable”, “foldable computer” and “foldable tablet” also popping up in the ‘designated goods’ column.
But while Samsung has teased several prototypes suggesting its long-term foldable ambitions could extend to laptops and tablets, for the moment it only has phones. And the Ironflex trademark suggests we’re going to see more resilient foldable screens for the next batch of them.
One area we know Samsung is looking at is dust resistance — something missing so far from the company’s foldables. Last July, Samsung head of mobile TM Roh said that foldable fans will have to “wait a little longer” but that plans are in motion.
“We are well aware of consumer demand for dust proofing, and we are making various efforts to achieve this, but due to the nature of foldables, there are many moving parts, so dust proofing is difficult,” he said at the time.
It’s possible, of course, that Ironflex isn’t that big an upgrade to what we already have. Samsung certainly wouldn’t be the first company to hide modest upgrades behind big-sounding trademarks, and perhaps the term is a move to try and counter any residual doubts about the reliability of foldable phones.
We likely won’t find out for a while. Though Samsung is hotly tipped to be hosting an event on January 17, this is likely to purely be about the Galaxy S24 flagship. If history is any guide, we shouldn’t expect Samsung’s next batch of foldables until the fall.
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Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.