Will Samsung ever have the Courage to deliver on their Foldable Smartphone Dream?
Since Patently Mobile (first under Patent Bolt) started covering Samsung's utility and design patents back in 2012, there's been one ongoing, never ending trend that's undeniable: Their search for new smartphone form factors that could give them the lead over their competitors like Apple. They've designed a great number of dual display booklet styled smartphones (one, two three and four), a trifold device, devices with large bendable displays, a smartphone with a scrollable display, a smartphone with an expandable display and many designs based on folding a phone like their most recent to yet others.
Because Samsung owns a division exclusively for display manufacturing and research, they're always on the hunt for the next great thing. The Phablet was a hit for Samsung, but that was an easy target as it just meant making a larger flat display. Yet since then, their inventiveness has relatively stayed on paper. Yes, they have their new edge line of smartphones, but simple little display edges has yet to translate into being a killer app to be sure.
Samsung has great ideas, but they just haven't executed on the many designs that they've been working on for more than five years now. In fact, one foldable dual display prototype goes all the way back to 2009 or seven years ago. Back then it was "just around the corner," and yet we're still waiting.
Yesterday Samsung was awarded yet another smartphone design patent that's based on a tri-fold display. It's impressive on paper as noted further below but it is void of any details.
Unlike "patent applications," design patents published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office don't reveal pertinent information about a particular design. We can look at the design and appreciate it for what it projects, but we'll never discover which materials may be used to construct the design. We'll never know what unique internal components may be hidden within the device or learn about any unique features that we could look forward to. All we get is the simple visual of what could be coming down the pipeline.
At the end of the day, while I'd love nothing more than to laugh at Samsung for their elaborate smartphone designs, I know better. I covered Apple working on a stylus and ink engine years before there was even an iPad. How were those patent reports received by the Apple community? – Not very. That was six years in the making. Patience was the key, and not many people have that today.
So will Samsung ever deliver on their promise of a foldable smartphone? Put it this way: I'm not betting against them. I hope they don't pull it off, as it could give them a big edge in the market if the design they choose to run with ever turns out to be a hit.
On the other hand, I'm not quite sure that Samsung has the courage to step out ahead of the pack with such a radical advancement. Knowing Samsung, they'll simply wait for a competitor like Microsoft to introduce the first-of-its-kind smartphone so that they could quickly copy it. Now that's something they're much better at in the end.