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Samsung is reportedly testing a dual-screen smartphone prototype

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The experimental product could help the company understand the appeal of foldable devices

Samsung

According to reports from Korean publications ET News and The Investor, tech giant Samsung will produce a number of prototype dual-screen smartphones this year. The company has already begun production on the device, say the reports, and plans to make between 2,000 and 3,000 units in the first half of 2017.

These dual-screen devices aren’t destined for the consumer market, though, and will instead be a test bed for Samsung to explore the potential of a foldable smartphone. The prototypes will reportedly be constructed from a pair of rigid, 5-inch OLED displays joined by a single hinge — a design we’ve seen in real consumer devices in the past, like NEC’s Medias W N-05E and the Kyocera Echo.

The Medias W N-05E, made by Japanese phone company NEC, could be similar in design to Samsung’s prototype.
Photo by Sam Byford / The Verge

Samsung has long cherished the idea of making a phone with a completely foldable display, even going so far as to produce a (terrible) concept ad for the non-existent product. But, bendable displays just aren’t ready for full-time production. They exist only as research and prototype devices, and even then, fail to measure up to our imagination. One report recently suggested Samsung was aiming to produce commercialized foldable phones by 2019, and even that might be ambitious.

But Samsung obviously knows the appeal of premium hardware; taking its curved displays from prototype to the company’s signature flourish in a matter of years. But will foldable displays even be useful? Will the benefits make up for the inevitable shortcomings? Testing dual-screen smartphones is probably a good way to find out.

As one industry source told ET News: “Since foldable products draw the most attention in markets recently, it is important to understand demands and ideas regarding new UX through this prototype. This is part of Samsung Electronics’ effort to introduce foldable Smartphones as ultra-premium products.”