Huawei may beat Samsung in the race to launch the world's first truly foldable smartphone. A foldable smartphone by Samsung has been a part of the rumour mill for over two years now, with the company in recent months confirming that it would be bringing the smartphone to market this year, adding it would not be a gimmick. Reports have indicated however that the South Korean giant is expected to launch the handset in 2019, but recent reports had suggested that it won't be called with the moniker Galaxy X. Samsung may launch the foldable handset with a Galaxy F brand name. Whatever the case be, the Galaxy foldable phone may not be the first phone of its kind as Chinese manufacturer Huawei is now said to be planning to beat Samsung to the market.
As per a Nikkei report out of China, Huawei has partnered with BOE Technology Group for supplying it with flexible OLED display for its premium foldable smartphone. The report claims that the first batch of foldable handsets by Huawei will include a small number of units with an aim to beat Samsung. An unnamed person familiar with the plans of Huawei has reportedly informed that the company will be manufacturing around 20,000 to 30,000 units for the initial buyers. Apart from Huawei's ambitions to beat Samsung to the market, the report does not provide too many additional details.
The Huawei foldable phone will hit the market by "very early 2019," according to Yuanta Investment Consulting analyst Jeff Pu. "The Chinese company wants to be the first in the industry even if the display technology from its panel supplier might not be that ready like Samsung," he was quoted as saying. The launch date of the handset will depend on the development of the technology and the durability of the foldable panels, the report noted.
When it comes to BOE, the report says it is heavily subsidised by the government and is "already the world's leading large-panel maker for TV screens." It is aggressively venturing into producing OLED displays, the report added.
Notably, the report has not revealed any price details for the mysterious Huawei phone, but a WitsView analyst claims that profitability isn't a major concern for this project. "Profitability for this project is not the first priority for the two Chinese companies," Eric Chiou said.
This is not the first time that Huawei is being reported to be working on a foldable smartphone of its own. Earlier this year, the Chinese smartphone giant was said to have partnered with LG Electronics to develop a handset that can fold inwards giving it a more compact form factor.
As it is right now, there are no real foldable handsets in the market. To be fair, ZTE did launch the Axon M foldable smartphone late last year, but that featured two different displays with a hinge in between. Interestingly, the report also claims that claims Samsung's foldable phone will be "no thicker than an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus" and sport a 7.3-inch screen when fully open.