Your next smartphone might fold in half.
Samsung announced on Tuesday, just hours before the highly anticipated iPhone 8 launch event, that it plans to release a foldable smartphone in 2018.
“As the head of the business, I can say our current goal is next year,” Samsung Electronics president of mobile business Koh Dong-jin said in an interview with the Associated Press. “When we can overcome some problems for sure, we will launch the product.”
Samsung has been rumored to be pursuing a foldable phone since at least 2013, when it first started showing prototypes at technology conferences and other media events. The rumor mill has picked up even more in recent years following the Galaxy Note 7 debacle and cries from experts for smartphone makers to try something different.
The Korean electronics conglomerate is aggressively seeking new ways to stand out in an increasingly congested consumer tech marketplace, and bendable phones aren’t the only way. Samsung is also rumored to be building an artificially intelligent speaker to compete with the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod.
Samsung has been actively muscling its way into the artificial intelligence industry since October 2016, when it bought startup Viv Labs for an undisclosed amount of money. Koh did not give any other information about the smart speaker, when it will launch, or whether it would be bundled with the foldable phones he mentioned.
That means the company will largely rely on the Galaxy Note 8 to compete with the new iPhones through the end of the year. Mashable senior tech correspondent Raymond Wong actually loved his experience using the Note 8 and generally recommends the phone, with the huge caveat that he hasn’t tried the new iPhones yet. He’ll be on the ground today at the Apple event to get a first look and will certainly offer up some thoughts after.
In addition to a foldable phone, Samsung is also rumored to be launching the Galaxy S9 in January. If the rumor is true, it means that Samsung will be able to use a multi-pronged attack against the new iPhone X, which starts at $999.
As always, we’ll be watching these releases carefully and bringing you deep analysis about any future releases from Samsung or its top rivals. Foldable phones certainly sound cool — but we question whether it will actually be enough to fend off all the new technology packed into the iPhone 8 and its counterparts.