Samsung's UI ideas for the Galaxy X may have been revealed in a patent
We've known for a long time that Samsung has ambitions to bring a phone with a fully flexible and folding OLED display to market, and in recent months many leaks and details have emerged pointing to a launch in 2018, with a so-called Samsung Galaxy X flagship.
A newly unearthed patent filing potentially casts some light on what we can expect in terms of handset design and a custom UI. However, there's something a bit troubling about the patent, which is that it shows a folding device with two seperate screens joined by a hinge, rather than one continuous folding panel.
The patent shows a dual-screen phone with a UI designed to spread apps and features across both displays in both portrait and landscape orientations. The two screens would function like a physical split screen, with each panel running individual apps and with each having its own app switcher for multi-tasking.
The patent also shows games and other media running in a mode similar to the Nintendo 3DS, where the lower screen might feature a virtual controller, or other in-game feature (such as a minimap), while the top screen shows the main gameplay. Samsung would need to develop bespoke APIs for developers as standard Android games probably wouldn't be able to support the features.
Another part of the patent shows that when the phone is folded, the rear display panel can show a book or album cover for the content you're currently using.
While all of these features are interesting, we can only hope they don't represent the final Galaxy X design and are rather showing a way of conceptualising it functionally. The whole point of the folding flexible OLED screen is to have one continuous display; if Samsung has used two displays with a hinge it defeats the whole purpose, in our minds at least, as such a clam-shell design has long been possible. Indeed, we remember the Sony Tablet P from 2011 having just such a design.