Editors' Note: Updated at 12:14 a.m. ET with more details about the Infinity Flex display.
SAN FRANCISCO — If you've been wondering when Samsung would finally take the wraps off its foldable smartphone, your wait is over. Though you will have to wait a little longer to get your hands on the phone.
The foldable phone doesn't have a name yet but it does have a 7.3-inch flexible AMOLED screen when fully unfolded. Samsung calls the screen its Infinity Flex Display, and it folds shut like a book. The unfolded screen offers 2152 x 1536 resolution, with 420 pixels per inch.
When closed, the fully functioning 4.58-inch cover display comes to life on the outside case, letting you use the device as you would any smartphone. It has a resolution of 1960 x 840, according to info shared by Samsung during a session at its developers conference.
Samsung didn't dive too deeply into details about the new device, which Justin Denison, senior vice president of product marketing, touted as the "foundation of the smartphone of tomorrow."
A New Kind of Display
Samsung had plenty to say about the screen, though, which uses an advanced composite polymer that Denison described as flexible and tough. To make the screen foldable, Samsung needed to make it thinner than any panel ever used on a mobile device. It did this by reducing the thickness of the display's polarizer, which is 45 percent thinner.
The result, Denison said, is a device that's designed to be folded and unfolded hundreds of thousands of times without any degradation in screen quality.
"Infinity Flex is the biggest leap forward in mobile display technology in the last 10 years," Denison said.
Running Three Apps at Once
Samsung didn't answer one of the biggest questions surrounding its foldable phone — just why exactly you'd use it instead of a more conventional (and likely less expensive) device. But the suggestion is that the foldable phone will specialize in multitasking.
Samsung says you'll be able to run three apps simultaneously instead of having to close and launch apps — a feature Samsung dubs Multiactive Window. The interface Samsung showed off to developers featured one app filling the entire left half of the screen, while two apps stacked on top of each other took over the right side. All those apps will be active at the same on the Infinity Flex phone.
When you're using the cover display phone, you'll be able to launch and use apps. With the phone's app continuity feature, when you unfold the display, the app you were using will be waiting for you on the larger screen. This is perhaps the best case to be made for a foldable display — the fully extended version of the screen packs in more detail, which Samsung says will create a more immersive experience for end users.
Google on Board for OS
These features will be supported by Android, according to Google, which plans to officially support the foldable phone with a special version of its mobile OS tailored for devices with flexible screens. The foldable phone will also run the OneUI Samsung introduced during its developer conference, which promises a cleaner look and a design that's easier to use on big-screen phones.
Samsung will distribute an emulator to app makers before the end of the year so they can test their apps on the new form factor.
Galaxy X (or Galaxy F) Release Date
If that sounds like there's still work to be done on the foldable phone, you've guessed correctly. Samsung says it's ready to start mass production on the new phone in the coming months, but didn't provide a timeline or a price. That's hardly surprising when we're still waiting on a name.
The phone Samsung demoed looked a bit on the thick size when closed, and the bezels around the screen were also sizable. But Denison was quick to point out that this was not a final product. We'll have to wait for the Galaxy X, Galaxy F or whatever Samsung decides to call its next big thing.
And the foldable phone sounds like its just one of several different displays Samsung is tinkering with. While recounting the history of its innovations with smartphone screens, Samsung teased three new designs that hinted at a notch coming to future displays. The Infinity-U and Infinity-V designs both feature teardrop-style notches in the vein of what we've already seen on devices like the Essential Phone and the OnePlus 6T. The Infinity-O is a more radical concept, with a cutout for a phone's front camera off the left side of the display.
Image credits: Samsung