The Galaxy Fold, screen off, featuring the big crease down the middle. [credit: Ron Amadeo ]
The Galaxy Fold was supposed to be The Future™. Samsung, the world’s leading display manufacturer, invested six years and $ 130 million to birth its ultimate creation: the flexible OLED display. And with the holy grail of display technology under its belt, Samsung would revolutionize the smartphone industry by introducing the “foldable” smartphone—a device that would be a portable, pocketable smartphone when closed and a multi-pane, multi-tasking, big-screen tablet when open. Samsung might have started the modern smartphone era as “that company that just copies Apple,” but after surviving a thousand lawsuits, ushering in the big-screen smartphone, and eventually surpassing Apple in sales, Samsung would finally, indisputably plant its flag atop the smartphone market with the Galaxy Fold, a device that would redefine the modern smartphone.
At least, that was the plan. Things have not gone to plan.
Catastrophe struck, allegedly during the development of the Galaxy Fold. At the end of 2018, Samsung said the foldable display technology it spent so much time and money to develop was stolen by a supplier and sold to two Chinese companies for $ 14 million. All of Samsung’s R&D work was supposed to give it a sizable head start in foldable smartphones, but that technological lead was suddenly evaporating.