Samsung will unveil details of a foldable smartphone later this year, the CEO of its mobile division told CNBC, amid rumors that such a device was in the works.
DJ Koh said that "it's time to deliver" on a foldable device after consumer surveys carried out by Samsung showed that there is a market for that kind of handset.
Speaking to CNBC, Koh was tight-lipped on how the folding screen could work but ran through the design thinking of the upcoming smartphone, particularly how Samsung is trying to differentiate the experience from a tablet once it is unfolded.
"You can use most of the uses ... on foldable status. But when you need to browse or see something, then you may need to unfold it. But even unfolded, what kind of benefit does that give compared to the tablet? If the unfolded experience is the same as the tablet, why would they (consumers) buy it?," Koh said at the IFA electronics show in Berlin last week.
"So every device, every feature, every innovation should have a meaningful message to our end customer. So when the end customer uses it, (they think) 'wow, this is the reason Samsung made it'."
The device may sound similar to a traditional flip phone which relied on a hinge to connect the two parts of the handset. But Samsung is likely to focus on creating an actual screen that bends. The Wall Street Journal reported in July that an upcoming foldable smartphone would use a single screen.
Koh hinted that more details of the device could be unveiled this year at the Samsung Developer Conference in November in San Francisco, but gave no indication of when a full launch would take place or when it might go on sale. The mobile CEO admitted that while the development process is "complicated," the company has "nearly concluded" it.
The move comes as Samsung looks to reinvigorate growth in its mobile division which saw sales fall 20 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018. The South Korean technology giant is facing stiff competition from Apple and Huawei in the high-end of the market. A folding phone could differentiate it from its competitors and potentially allow it to charge a higher price for the unique device.
Koh also told CNBC that the company is changing its strategy in the mid-tier smartphone market to pack lower priced devices with new technology in order to appeal more to millennials.
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