Samsung Announces Foldable Phone Launch Date

Updated 4:19 pm ET with analyst's comments.

Samsung's long-awaited foldable phone is getting ready for primetime, and could very well steal the thunder away from Apple's iPhone XS.

Credit: Samsung

(Image credit: Samsung)

Speaking to CNBC in an interview published on Tuesday (Sept. 4), Samsung's mobile division chief DJ Koh said that the foldable phone will launch later this year, possibly as soon as the company's developer conference in November. It kicks off Nov. 7.

In the interview, Koh said that Samsung recently conducted a survey to see if there's consumer interest in a foldable phone. After hearing from customers that they want the device, he said that "it's time to deliver."

But why deliver the goods at a developer conference as opposed to a typical launch event?

MORE: Samsung Galaxy X Rumors: Everything You Need to Know

"I really like the idea of launching hardware with a new form factor at a developer conference and then shipping it to consumers a few months later, " said Avi Greengart, research director for platforms and devices at GlobalData. "Nobody is going to buy a folding phone unless there are uniquely compelling things to do with it – and that depends on software."

Speculation has been running rampant that the foldable smartphone, which could be known as the Galaxy X, would launch sometime in 2019. Some rumors have suggested Samsung's device would launch at Mobile World Congress in February. At CES in January, those reports said, Samsung would launch its Galaxy S10. Koh, however, is apparently moving up the launch.

There's a reason for getting the foldable phone out there early other than stealing the spotlight from the iPhone XS.

"If Samsung can get developers excited enough about the new device to create apps and services that take advantage of its unique attributes, then when the phone launches in 2019 it can hit the ground running," said Greengart.

In the interview, Koh wouldn't say in detail how the device would work, but he did reveal that "you can use most of the uses...on foldable status." He added that the device could be "unfolded" that would give you more screen real estate to surf the Web "or see something."

"So every device, every feature, every innovation should have a meaningful message to our end customer," Koh said. "So when the end customer uses it, (they think) 'wow, this is the reason Samsung made it'."

So, when can we actually get our hands on the foldable handset?

According to Koh, Samsung will detail its features and other critical components at its Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco. He stopped short, however, of saying that it would actually launch at that show. He also didn't say how much the device would cost.

The autumn season is shaping up to be a busy one for phones. Next week, Apple is holding an event where it's expected to unveil a new line of iPhones. And Google is expected to launch the Pixel 3 in early October. But Samsung could upstage them all come November.