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Race heats up for multifoldable phones

Feb. 14, 2024 - 15:49 By Jie Ye-eun
Samsung Display's S-Foldable is a flexible display that can be folded in two directions -- both inwards and outwards -- to as small as a regular-sized smartphone or as large as a 7.2-inch large screen when unfolded. (Samsung Display)

Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies is reportedly preparing to launch the world’s first triple-foldable smartphone within the second quarter, aiming to challenge the dominance of Samsung Electronics in the global foldable phone market.

Huawei has reportedly begun the development of a triple-foldable phone, which includes three display panels alongside two sets of hinge technologies. The device will likely sport an S- or Z-shaped form factor, according to news reports on Wednesday.

The triple-foldable phone is expected to offer a wider screen than the existing foldable form factors that fold horizontally or vertically once. It may even replace the role of tablets in the future, the reports said.

Asked about the rumor, however, a Huawei official said, "There's nothing to comment on."

Samsung Electronics, the absolute powerhouse in the foldable smartphone market, has also been working on related developments. It filed a new Galaxy Fold patent with a dual hinge and triple-screen framework to the US Patent and Trademark Office last year, hinting that it is ready to realize advanced foldable devices.

At this year's CES in Las Vegas last month, Samsung Display also showcased its latest foldable technology, "Flex In and Out Flip," a foldable device with a flip phone design. Its unique in-and-out foldable technology allows it to fold 360 degrees.

Another rumor has been circulating that Samsung will also likely launch a triple-folding device this year.

"Rumors are circulating that Samsung will add a triple fold to its lineup this year. With Huawei almost certain to release a triple fold in the second quarter of this year, from Samsung's perspective, it cannot afford to miss out on the title of 'world's first,'" tipster Revegnus' post on X, formerly Twitter, read Tuesday.

IT media outlet LetsGoDigital also reported that it is only a matter of time before Samsung releases triple-foldable phones, since the company already has several similar foldable related patents.

Since Samsung first introduced the new foldable form factor in 2019, more companies have joined the high-end segment, including Google and Huawei, and expanded the market.

Following rumors concerning the two tech giants, local industry sources have kept a close eye on who will don the "world’s first" triple-foldable phone maker crown. Industry sources believe that triple-foldable phones are likely to be released by Huawei in China before Samsung globally.

A Samsung official declined to confirm any plan for multifoldable phones, saying "We have been working on diverse form factors."

Industry watchers were also skeptical that a triple-foldable phone could make a commercial debut any time soon.

"It would take more time for their commercial debut, considering the current foldable phones are still in their nascent stages," said an industry official who wished to be unnamed.

"The issue is not who will launch the world's first multifoldable phone. What's more important is to come up with a more durable device with enhanced usability."