While they have little chance of becoming an everyday occurrence for a few years yet, foldable smartphones have become one of the standout mobile trends of 2019. We’ve already seen the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X, but even more are on the horizon. LG has no intention of missing out. Here’s what we know about LG’s folding smartphone so far.
Patents for folding phones have been seen from LG for several years, we’ve covered leaks stating the company would have a foldable device in 2017, and before all that, it pioneered the flexible screen with smartphones such as the G Flex and G Flex 2. It also reportedly spent $1 billion on a factory in South Korea dedicated to making flexible screens, all of which adds up to not only experience, but also the ability and interest to make folding smartphones a reality.
What could it look like? There’s always a period with every foldable phone where a variety of folds are considered, before being narrowed down to a single option. If some pictures of screen manufacture from LetsGoDigital are to be believed, then LG has finally chosen the type of fold for its foldable device, and it looks like it’ll be a clamshell fold.
These images supposedly show a flexible screen being tested in one of LG’s laboratories, and while the screen’s housing isn’t included, it seems likely from the bend in the screen that the phone is intended to fold inward on itself like a clam. This clamshell design was well known in the pre-smartphone era, being favored by a variety of popular phones, including the Motorola Razr V3. That design is supposedly due to be revisited in Motorola’s own folding smartphone, but it seems like LG will be covering that base too. It’ll be interesting to see how the two phones differ.
An earlier patent from November 2018 shows a different approach, with a single screen folding centrally, and a wraparound section showing information — almost like an always-on display — when the device is closed. It resembles a miniature laptop, more than a phone, and can apparently be used with the clamshell half open, and resting on a tabletop.
The screen wraps around the edge of the phone, stopping the need for two screens, but meaning to fully use the device it must be opened up. The software will manage the content when opening and closing the phone, with sections of the screen used for volume adjustment or scrubbing when watching video, or for switching between open tabs or apps.
When will the LG foldable smartphone be revealed? When rumors about it began to really gather steam, there was talk of the phone being announced — or at least shown — during a presentation at this year’s CES technology show in Las Vegas, but that obviously didn’t happen.
When the news first broke about the possibility of a flexible LG smartphone at CES 2019, Digital Trends spoke to Ken Hong, LG’s head of global corporate communications, to get an official response. He said “LG’s policy is not to comment on rumors and speculation,” but when pushed on the subject, he hesitated and added, “Anything is possible at CES.”
If and when it does arrive, what will it be called? LG has several trademarks that may be suitable, including the LG Flex, the LG Foldi, and the LG Duplex. The LG Bendi has also been trademarked, and would seem appropriate for a folding smartphone.
LG isn’t the only company working on a folding smartphone. Samsung and Huawei have revealed their folding smartphones, and many more are on the way. Xiaomi and Motorola are apparently working on a foldable device, while even Microsoft is rumored to be examining a foldable device design.
Updated on April 3, 2019: Added new photos that apparently show the LG foldable smartphone.
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