Samsung launches folding smartphone

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

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SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Seeking to rev up demand in the slumping smartphone market, Samsung on Wednesday unveiled a folding handset, becoming the first major manufacturer to offer the feature.

The South Korean giant's Galaxy Fold, unveiled at a San Francisco event, serves as a smartphone with a 4.6-inch display and unfolds to become a tablet of 7.3 inches.

"We are giving you a device that doesn't just define a new category, it defies category," said Samsung's Justin Denison at the event.

The Fold will be available April 26 starting at US$1,980, the company said.

The move comes with the smartphone market in its worst-ever decline with consumers keeping devices longer and waiting for new innovations.

Samsung made the announcement on the home turf of rival Apple, with the two giants battling for the premium segment of the market.

Denison said the Fold is "a one of a kind luxury device with immersive visuals" and offers "a truly next generation experience" that enables multitasking on its large screen.

The tech giant said the Fold can open up to three active apps simultaneously.

Samsung also announced its new Galaxy S10 handset, upgrading its current line of flagship handsets.

"We are pushing beyond the limits of today's technology to inspire a new generation of smartphones and recharge growth for our industry," said DJ Koh, head of mobile communications at Samsung Electronics.

"For those who say everything possible has already been done, I say open your mind and get ready for the dawn of a new mobile era. Buckle your seatbelt, the future is about to begin."

He said the Galaxy Fold was designed "for those that want to experience what a premium foldable device can do, beyond the limitations of a traditional smartphone."

The S10 handsets will offer improved colour display with active matrix organic light emitting (AMOLED) technology, improved battery life and upgraded cameras.

The S10 will be available in three versions with the S10e starting at US$749, and the largest version, S10 Plus at US$999, starting March 8.

The Samsung Fold is aimed at popularizing new kinds of displays in a future where devices and be more easily folded or rolled up.

Earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, Chinese startup Royole showed off what it claimed is the first foldable smartphone, which can fit into a pocket but unfold into a full-sized tablet computer, which is available in China and the US for some US$1,300.

Samsung at the same time is opening three US retail stores to promote its Galaxy line of smartphones, stepping up competition on Apple's home turf.

Samsung said it made the move after feedback from customers.

"They told us that they love having the ability to walk into a store and experience how the latest technology from Samsung works together to create a unique, immersive experience," the company said in a statement. The new stores will be at the Americana at Brand mall in Los Angeles; Roosevelt Field in Garden City, New York; and The Galleria in Houston, Texas.


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