Samsung has been an early trailblazer in the brave new world of foldable phones, and if it wasn’t already obvious, the company has no intention of resting on its laurels.
At CES 2022, the company is showing off no fewer than four extendable phone and tablet concepts, showing that the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 are early stops on an expansive product roadmap for the best foldable phones.
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First up is an improvement on the formula established by the Galaxy Z Fold series. What if the screen could fold over twice, allowing for an even larger tablet form factor when unfolded? The result is two concepts: the Flex S and Flex G, captured in the video below.
Samsung Flex S and Flex G
The Flex S comes in two forms, both which fold like an S. The difference between the two versions is one has a transparent area so that part of the internal screen is visible even when the device is fully folded.
The Flex G also divides the panel into three, but this time folds in a ‘G’ shape so that the rear of the screen is on the outside when the device is closed. That obviously means you can’t interact with it, but the flipside of this is that the panel is protected when you put it in your pocket or bag.
Samsung Flex Note
Foldable displays aren’t simply capable of turning smartphones into tablets, and Samsung has something bigger in mind with the Flex Note.
Here, a large 17-inch panel can be folded in half for portability, or double up as a 13-inch laptop with virtual controls on the bottom half. It’s certainly a neat way of packing a large extra screen without worrying about scratching it, though its utility as a laptop is a bit more questionable for me, given the feel of touchscreen keyboards for longform writing.
Samsung Flex Slidable
Finally, Samsung demonstrated the Flex Slidable, a phone that’s not a million miles away from another couple of concepts: the LG Rollable and Oppo X 2021. At the press of a button, the screen extends by about a third as demoed below.
Of all the concepts on display, it has to be said that this looks the most in need of a killer use case. The demonstration here shows the extra area used for app selection and, bluntly, I’m not sure that’s any more convenient than just swiping in from the right side to see Samsung's Edge panel — especially when adding a moving part to do so could make such a device considerably less reliable in the long run.
All the same, these are just concepts, and it’s certainly exciting to see the kind of approaches Samsung is considering for the next generation of expandable screens. We’re not expecting anything that dramatic this year, with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 looking set to be evolution rather than revolution.
But that doesn't mean Samsung couldn't release an entirely new foldable that could make our best phones list. But do bear in mind it's not the only player in the foldables arena as the Honor Magic V foldable phone has been unveiled — and it beats Galaxy Z Fold 3 in five big ways.
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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.