Samsung announced the first consumer-ready foldable smartphone Wednesday at a launch event in San Francisco.
The new phone, called the Galaxy Fold, has a special display that can fold open if you want to use it like a tablet. The new device will launch at a time when consumers are looking for innovative new features in smartphones to justify increased prices in the $1,000 range.
Samsung said that, when closed, the phone can easily fit in your hand like a traditional phone. But it also opens up into a large tablet for when you want to watch movies. You can also switch between screens on the fly. Samsung said that means, if you get an alert on the front screen, you can open into tablet mode and see the notification automatically in the app.
There are two batteries, one on each side of the fold, that allow the tablet to fold in half easier.
Both Samsung and Apple have seen their smartphone market share lose ground to companies like Huawei, which makes phones with similar features at a lower cost. Folding phones, which so far have only been shown as prototypes by Samsung and other companies like Xiaomi, could usher in a new wave of unique smartphone form factors that will excite customers to upgrade.
Samsung first unveiled a prototype of the Galaxy Fold in November2018, when it promised that a model people will actually be able to buy was launching “soon.” The Galaxy Fold runs a version of Google Android that automatically adjusts the software so that it works in both tablet and phone modes.
“You can simply unfold the device to get a larger tablet-sized screen,” Google Android’s vice president of engineering, Dave Burke, said in November. “As you unfold, the app seamlessly transfers to the bigger screen without missing a beat.”
It will launch in LTE and 5G versions beginning April 26 for $1,980.