Huawei CEO Richard Yu confirmed at the launch of the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro this week that the company is planning to release 5G foldable phones in 2019. In an interview with Digital Trends, Yu commented, “We are working on foldable phones. Foldable 5G phones.” It’s been rumored since this past July that Huawei was working to beat its rival Samsung to release a foldable phone as early as next year, but Yu’s comments are the first time it’s been suggested that the phones will run on a 5G network.
We’ve known about Huawei’s plans for a separate 5G phone for a while, as the Chinese company is developing its own chip, the Balong 5G01, that can support the new 3GPP standard for 5G networks. It has also invested $600 million to make its devices 5G compatible, so a foldable tablet that can also support 5G makes sense.
Meanwhile, Samsung is holding a developer conference next month, where Samsung Mobile CEO DJ Koh has hinted at giving a keynote previewing the company’s foldable phone. Samsung’s been working on a flexible OLED screen for years. It debuted a flexible AMOLED screen called “Youm” in 2012, and recently, it had its “unbreakable” OLED display certified for durability.
It’s been reported that Samsung’s foldable phone will be a tablet that can fit in your pocket to be released under the Galaxy Note line. In the same vein, it’s possible that Huawei’s massive 7.2-inch Mate 20 X could be a preview of what the foldable phone’s full display could look like. What once seemed like a farfetched concept is now being embraced by several tech companies, including giants like Microsoft, which is working on a pocketable Surface device, and Intel, which is working on dual-screen computers.