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Samsung's foldable phones could be pricy and few

If Samsung decides to bring its phones to market, don't expect to find them everywhere.

Flexible displays
Early in the year, CNET got a close-up look at Samsung's coming Youm flexible display technology. More recently, Samsung's Galaxy Round and LG's G Flex have been made available, raising a lot of questions about what a flexible display is and isn't, what the word really means, and just what kinds of benefits a bendable display would bring to a smartphone or any other gadget. Find out all you need to know about flexible screens, here.
James Martin/CNET
Now playing: Watch this: This Samsung foldable phone may become reality in February

On Wednesday, a Samsung patent showing a design concept for a foldable smartphone made its rounds on the internet. The renderings in the patent, as well as a report claiming that Samsung will unveil two bendable phones in 2017, brought the idea of bendable phones one step closer to reality.

But even if Samsung can make the foldable phones, a new report suggests it might be cautious about releasing them.


The Samsung patent shows just how cool a folding phone could be.

Samsung patent screenshot via Gordon Gottsegen/CNET

Samsung must first gauge the market, which is largely uncertain, "sources" told The Korean Herald. "Samsung is already capable of mass producing foldable phones," the Herald reported. "Premium models are usually made in small quantities." Samsung apparently isn't sure if there's a market demand "for the costly, foldable devices," which could come by the end of next year.

In the past, Samsung's experiments with flexible displays (like the Galaxy Round) saw the company making a small amount of phones and selling them in their stronghold of South Korea to see how customers responded.

Samsung has reason to take small steps. The company continues to be in boiling water with the public and after recalling its most premium phone, the Note 7, for its explosive tendencies. Samsung will have to focus its energies on getting back into buyers' good graces, and making sure future products don't suffer the same fiery fate.

Samsung told CNET it would not comment on rumors or speculation.