Samsung may finally release the Galaxy X in 2018 -- here are 7 things to expect from the foldable smartphone concept

It’s been rumoured for years that Samsung has been working on a foldable smartphone called the Galaxy X. It remains elusive as ever, but it might just make its market debut this year.

Samsung discussed its plans to produce flexible displays amid reporting its 2017 financials on Wednesday, causing many tech enthusiasts to wonder whether Samsung will finally release its foldable Galaxy X.

Here’s what we know about the Galaxy X.

It could have more screen real estate

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business InsiderThe Samsung ultrawide monitor with many windows open.

Many have speculated that a foldable smartphone would give users an option to have a much bigger display. And many Samsung patents and prototypes suggest a device that opens and closes inward, like a book, or horizontally, like a notepad.

Most Galaxy X concepts suggest that a foldable phone would have a maximum screen size comparable to that of a tablet. The display could be split into two panels that show different things or one big picture.

Samsung has demonstrated this on other products, such as its 48-inch ultrawide computer monitor. In contrast, a smartphone with a foldable display could make a device more compact, similar to a clamshell phone.

It might have a built-in screen protector, so to speak

Jeff Turner/Flickr (CC)Cracked iPhone screen

A smartphone that folds inward could serve as its own screen protector, depending on the material of the outside layer.

It would, however, be a different story – and most likely more painful for a user – if the open device were to fall facedown.

It could be bulkier than most modern smartphones

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business InsiderThe ZTE Axon M.

Most smartphone manufacturers have spent years making devices thinner and lighter, but a foldable smartphone is likely to be heavier and bulkier.

A prime example is the ZTE Axon M, marketed as the first foldable smartphone. The device, made of two displays attached by a mechanical hinge, is considerably thicker than Samsung’s Galaxy S8.

Currently, it’s unclear how thick a device with a foldable display would be. In terms of weight, such a device might be closer to a tablet than a smartphone.

It will most likely be expensive

SamsungThe price of the Samsung Galaxy S8.

New display technologies tend to make smartphones more expensive.

In the past few years, consumers have seen the starting price of the newest iPhone go to $US1,000 from $US650 – partly because Apple switched to an OLED display from an LCD one – and Samsung’s smartphones with curved displays steadily increase in price.

It’s unclear what Samsung’s foldable phone might cost, but for reference, Samsung’s most expensive phone, the Galaxy Note 8, costs about $US950.

Still, many other things could factor into the Galaxy X’s price, including memory, storage capacity, and external materials.

There will be a host of issues we can’t predict

Hollis JohnsonA Samsung Galaxy S8 with the company’s artificially intelligent assistant, Bixby, on the home screen.

New technologies almost always have issues that don’t become apparent until the product is on the market and millions of people get a chance to try it.

There is no telling what could go wrong with a device with a display that can fold in the middle. But what is certain is that if there are issues, people will have no problem voicing their opinions. (Should we coin the term “screengate” now or later?)

Samsung’s edge panel could become obsolete

Business InsiderThe Samsung Galaxy Note Edge.

For the Galaxy X, Samsung is likely to ditch its signature curved-display design and corresponding edge-panel software features – the device is unlikely to have a foldable screen and curved edges.

Samsung’s edge panel essentially serves as a second screen, hosting app shortcuts and other easy-access functions. But it’s limited in that users can’t access the main screen at the same time.

A foldable phone could be able to host more apps on the home screen and improve multitasking among apps.

Expect extremely limited availability to start

SamsungA Samsung Galaxy Round.

Samsung could release its foldable smartphone as a market prototype with limited availability, using it as a testbed for future products that have a better chance of wowing consumers.

Samsung has done this in the past – for example, releasing the Samsung Galaxy Round in 2013. The device was Samsung’s first attempt at a smartphone with a curved display, but it was exclusive to select Asian markets.

The next year, as a follow-up to the Galaxy Round, Samsung released the Galaxy Note Edge, featuring a single curved edge on its right side. It was the blueprint for every subsequent curved-display device on the market.

If Samsung were to take a similar route with a foldable Galaxy X smartphone, its availability could also be limited to certain Asian markets, such as Korea or China. If the device isn’t well-received, it could end up as easily forgotten as the Galaxy Round.

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