On the same day that Apple unveiled its iPhone X handset, Samsung announced that its next Galaxy Note installment would likely be foldable. The announcement does not come as a surprise though, since the South Korea tech giant has been experimenting on flexible screens in the recent years. 

On Tuesday, Samsung’s mobile division chief Koh Dong-jin revealed to reporters at a media conference the company’s plan for its Note series. According to him, Samsung is already aiming to launch a foldable Note handset next year. However, there are still issues that the company needs to address first before finalizing this project. 

“Samsung has the foldable smartphone in its roadmap for the Note series and is currently working to solve a series of hurdles before unveiling it next year,” Koh said. He added that the foldable Note 9 wouldn’t be a short-term effort, but would instead debut as a premium flagship device. “Samsung will not roll out the foldable smartphone as a stop-gap product, but as a well-made flagship that can appeal to consumers.”

The Investor believes the Galaxy Note 9 could turn out to be a device that is capable of being folded in half. Koh did not reveal if this foldable handset would be marketed as a smartphone or a tablet PC. However, it is very likely that the device would still debut as a smartphone, considering the Note series is all about large phones. 

Samsung’s foldable smartphone is long overdue. Apple’s biggest rival has been showcasing flexible AMOLED display panels for years now. It first flaunted its invention of a 4.5-inch flexible screen at CES 2011, then it introduced another prototype in 2013. The consistent showcase of flexible display panels by Samsung even led some to speculate that the company could be unveiling foldable phones at IFA 2017. Unfortunately, that did not happen. 

By introducing a foldable Note installment, Samsung could irk fans who want consistency from its product lines. The company did a significant redesign to the Note series when it launched the the Galaxy Note 8 last month, so consumers could be expecting a minimal upgrade for next year’s iteration. Still, it’s a brave thing for Samsung to admit this early that it is planning to once again adopt a  different designing approach for the Note 9. 

The timing of Samsung’s announcement about the foldable Note 9 seems curious, knowing that Apple launched its new products on the same day. Nonetheless, Koh maintains that they are not working on new handsets to compete with their rivals’ smartphones. Instead, they are said to be focused on adopting new technologies that are in line with their long-term product roadmap. Koh then pointed out how they spent years developing Samsung’s iris scanner, IP68-certified phone bodies and its own voice recognition feature, called Bixby. 

Also, Samsung is currently more preoccupied with meeting the demand for its Galaxy Note 8 phablet, especially that the preorders exceeded their expectations. For the first five-day preorders, Samsung has accumulated requests for 600,000 units. The figure, as per Koh, is around two and a half times bigger than preorders for the ill-fated Note 7. 

Note 8 Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 successor could be foldable. Photo: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji