Samsung has been a leader in foldable smartphones for nearly three years, but the future of the company’s foldable ambitions has always been shown at trade shows, and it has been well into the past until 2008. With three versions of the Galaxy Z Fold (and two smaller Z Flips) under the belt of the conglomerate, Samsung’s display division showed a plethora of prototypes at CES detailing what the future of foldable devices will look like. For some reason, Samsung has produced official hands-on videos of these devices but not hosted them anywhere, but there are some mirrors on YouTube from Abhijeet Mishra (1, 2, 3, 4th).

These are not from the Galaxy department (that would be Samsung Mobile) and they are not full-featured devices. But Samsung Display technology was a driving factor behind the Galaxy Fold line of devices. Now the display division wants to tackle even larger and more complicated form factors.

The three-fold concepts “Flex S” and “Flex G”

If one fold works on the Galaxy Z Fold, then two folds are certainly even better. The first concept, the “Flex S”, folds up into an “S” shape (it’s more like a “Z”, but “S” has much better Samsung branding synergy). This gives you a visible front display when the device is closed and a wide aspect ratio when it is open. The Flex S is available as a phone and tablet version. The commercial Galaxy Fold requires a completely separate screen in order to have a front display, while the Flex S only requires a single screen. the Huawei Mate X tried a single-screen design with only one crease, but that meant the entire device was a display when closed and there was no “safe” side to put on the table. The Flex S bypasses this problem with the second fold.

The tablet opens up to an aspect ratio of around 16:10, which seems to be a good addition for video content, tablet apps or three phone apps lying next to each other. When closed, the tablet takes the shape of the phone, but this prototype looks like one of the largest “phones” on the market.

This device looks like it’s constructed exactly like an enlarged Galaxy Z Fold. There is a raised plastic bezel around the flexible OLED display that holds the panel on the phone. As with the Fold, the display edges are exposed around the hinge area, with a “T” -shaped protector that will hopefully prevent anything from getting under the sensitive display.

The telephone version of the Flex S has already appeared at other trade shows. It shrinks the same tri-fold design down to a 4-inch device that looks like a device. When closed, you get a small, one-handed phone design that you can then open to a larger device for multimedia use. Making a small phone bigger is a cool idea, and it seems more functional than the Galaxy Z Flip, which is just a regular phone that folds in half.

In contrast to the tablet, the Flex S phone has a plausible camera setup thanks to the camera hump on the front left side of the device. It’s not demonstrated, but I imagine this could work as both a front and a rear camera by simply flipping the first part of the screen and using the other half of the display as a viewfinder.

The right panel of the device is a little strange. Samsung chose not to extend the display until the end of the phone. Instead, the phone becomes just a clear plastic block. When you fold the phone, the main display is now on the front and a clear plastic strip that exposes a bit of the display on the back where you can view a message or something.

The Flex G devices have the same idea, but everything folds inwards so there is no screen on the outside. These protect the screen a lot more when it’s in your pocket, but you don’t have a quick display for notifications that we found be restrictive on other foldable. Again, there is a dead zone on the right side of the phone, but this time Samsung fills it with an S-Pen holder. There is a front camera but no rear camera on this prototype.

The large tablet version is just a screen. There are no cameras and I’m not even sure if it has a charging port.

Samsung also showed a phone with a rollable flexible display. This is similar to the designs we’ve seen before LG, Oppo, and TCL. In phone mode, the flexible display encloses one side of the phone with an additional, unused display on the back. When it is time to switch to tablet mode, a set of motors expand the body of the device, pulling more of the flexible display from the back to the front, making the display “grow”. A variety of companies have shown this design, but no one has commercialized it yet.

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