Foldable smartphones may become one of the standout mobile trends of 2019, with several manufacturers officially stating they’re working on such devices for the coming year. LG has no intention of missing out. Here’s what we know about LG’s folding smartphone so far.
Release and name
When will the LG foldable smartphone be revealed? When rumors about it began to really gather steam, there was talk of the phone being announced — or at least shown — during a presentation at next year’s CES technology show in Las Vegas; but this is now in doubt. In a tweet, mobile leaker Evan Blass had said, “LG plans to unveil a foldable phone at its 2019 CES keynote,” but Blass has since stated the chance of this happening has fallen considerably.
The new information, tweeted on December 17, said, “The likelihood of LG showing that foldable at CES has plummeted,” indicating LG’s plans for the show are still being finalized.
When the news first broke about the possibility of a flexible LG smartphone at CES 2019, Digital Trends spoke to Ken Hong, LG’s head of global corporate communications, to get an official response. He said “LG’s policy is not to comment on rumors and speculation,” but when pushed on the subject, he hesitated and added, “Anything is possible at CES.”
If and when it does arrive, what will it be called? LG has several trademarks that may be suitable, including the LG Flex, the LG Foldi, and the LG Duplex. The LG Bendi has also been trademarked, and would seem appropriate for a folding smartphone.
Patents for folding phones have been seen from LG for several years, we’ve covered leaks stating the company would have a foldable device in 2017, and before all that, it pioneered the flexible screen with smartphones such as the G Flex and G Flex 2. It also reportedly spent $1 billion on a factory in South Korea dedicated to making flexible screens, all of which adds up to not only experience, but also the ability and interest to make folding smartphones a reality.
What could it look like? A patent from November 2018 shows a different approach to that expected from Samsung, with a single screen folding centrally, and a wraparound section showing information — almost like an always-on display — when the device is closed. It resembles a miniature laptop, more than a phone, and can apparently be used with the clamshell half open, and resting on a tabletop.
The screen wraps around the edge of the phone, stopping the need for two screens, but meaning to fully use the device it must be opened up. The software will manage the content when opening and closing the phone, with sections of the screen used for volume adjustment or scrubbing when watching video, or for switching between open tabs or apps.
LG isn’t the only company working on a folding smartphone. Samsung and Huawei have confirmed folding smartphone plans; neither have stated anything about when they will launch outside of some time in 2019. Huawei has linked its folding smartphone with 5G, indicating it may not arrive until a 5G network launches — a date which is equally unknown. Microsoft is also rumored to be examining a foldable device design.
CES 2019 begins on January 8, 2019, and we’ll keep you up to date with LG’s foldable smartphone news and rumors right here.
Updated on December 17, 2018: Added new rumors stating the LG folding smartphone will not be announced during CES 2019.