Samsung's Galaxy Folder: Double the Screens, Double the Fun?
It may seem like a throw-back, but the new clamshell device detailed on Samsung's website is actually not all that unusual in the Asian marketplace. "The midrange smartphone market is getting harder to differentiate," noted Arvani Group founder Azita Arvani. "Samsung already has flip phones in this segment for the Asian market, and this can be a refresh for those models."
08/02/13 5:16 PM PT
It's hardly surprising that Samsung is working on a brand-new smartphone -- it is a device manufacturer, after all. What is surprising is the form factor of this new device: It will reportedly be styled as a dual-display flip phone -- similar, in other words, to the many other clamshell devices that saturated the market before smartphones took over.
The news about the phone, which will be called the "Galaxy Folder," reportedly emerged when Japanese tech site RBMen discovered a Korean-language user manual for the device on Samsung's website.
Many of the Galaxy Folder's specs are familiar to those who have used a flip phone before. There is one new element, however: the dual-sided screen is touch-controlled on both sides, according to the specs, which call for at least one of the displays to be a 3.7-inch AMOLED panel.
The Folder also appears to sport a Snapdragon 400 dual-core chip and 2GB of RAM, with support for 4G LTE. One also might conclude it is destined for the Korean market, given the existence of the Korean-language manual.
Samsung did not respond to our request to comment for this story.
There are a number of reasons why Samsung might be working on such a device. For starters, it is one way to differentiate a product in the midrange smartphone market in certain geographies, Azita Arvani, founder of The Arvani Group, told TechNewsWorld.
"The midrange smartphone market is getting harder to differentiate," Arvani explained. "Samsung already has flip phones in this segment for the Asian market, and this can be a refresh for those models."
Upgrading a familiar-looking device with new functionality is a smart move, if indeed the rumors are true, noted Drew Lieberman, CEO of Glyde.
"Consumers are always looking for features that make their lives easier, whether it's an app or a feature that allows them to type more quickly," Lieberman told TechNewsWorld.
"The fact that Samsung is staking a claim on touchscreens demonstrates it is not standing still while innovation is happening around it," he added. "From the data we have on consumers, we see this as a smart move and one that has the ability to make a specific set of consumers happy."
The Risk of Something New
There are some risks to a device like this, John Jackson, vice president of research for CCS Insight, told TechNewsWorld, but if Samsung can pull it off, the risks are worth the potential rewards.
"The phone industry has been in a bit of a rut in terms of industrial design innovation," Jackson explained.
There has been some movement in the direction Samsung appears to be taking the Folder, such as by Russian provider Vota, which showed off a version of a clamshell phone with touchscreen capabilities at Mobile World Congress earlier this year, he noted.
"It was an Android phone with e-ink display on the reverse side," Jackson pointed out. "So there has been at least one commercial experiment that Samsung could conceivably follow."
A Question of Battery Life
The real test, however, would be the battery life, Jackson suggested.
"The question of whether you can build it has been answered -- the real question is whether you can build this so that the battery lasts more than half a day," he said.
Still, given the uncertainty of the demand for such a device, "Samsung is in a good position to conduct this kind of experiment," he added.
"We really don't know how much support there will be for this in the market," Jackson concluded. "Given the cost of failure, the best company to find out is a Samsung, not a Vota."