A new patent filing sparked rumors that Samsung, LG and Apple are all considering implementing bendable screens in the near future. We’ve been talking about bendable smartphone screen technology for years, but does this new patent filing finally confirm this technology is on its way?
A flexible display is defined as “an electronic visual display that is flexible in nature; as opposed to the more prevalent traditional flat screen displays used in most electronics devices.” In recent years, this technology has garnered a lot of attention. For one, a flexible display could mean far less broken phones! Plus, it’ll offer the ability to fit your phone just about anywhere by simply folding up. While there is not a mainstream smartphone for sale that already offers this technology, it’s not as new as you might think. In fact, Samsung showcased the first example of this type of phone in 2010 with the development of a prototype 4.5-inch flexible AMOLED display. This device was showcased at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show. At the time, Samsung said they were hoping to incorporate the technology into their devices by 2012.
If a bendable screen is your dream come true, don’t expect anything in the next few months. In fact, Samsung’s unveiling of the Galaxy S8 in April is not expected to have the bendable screen. Even though Samsung is testing the technology out in their factories, it doesn’t appear they are ready to launch a phone with these capabilities just yet. Later this year, the Q3 2017 release is when the bendable screen is rumored to arrive. Samsung has released a phone with this technology, but only the screen was flexible, not the entire device. Therefore it couldn’t actually fold in half. The first phone sold with flexible display technology was the Samsung Galaxy Round. It operated on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and sold for $1,000 at the time of its release. From there, Samsung worked to create the flexible and rounded edges that provided additional screen space. The point of the extra display strip, according to Samsung, was to display extra info with apps, like news tickers and notifications. These concepts came to life with the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge. Around this same time, Arizona State University’s Flexible Display Center announced the development of the world’s largest flexible OLED display. They accomplished this by using thin-film transistor technology. Their intentions were to use the display in “thin, lightweight, bendable and highly rugged devices.”
LG applied for a patent involving foldable display. Android Headlines reveal that this type of patent is for a device that can actually fold in half.
Apple has also applied for foldable display patents, and they have the technological capabilities to create a smartphone with a flexible display. This opens the door to create the good old flip phones of the past with a much-needed modern twist.
Some people are lucky enough to have already played around with foldable screen technology. Just last year, Lenovo showcased a prototype smartphone that can fold around your wrist. At the same time they showcased a tablet that can fold up into a large-sized smartphone. People had a chance to play around with the devices, which Lenovo said are not yet available to the public and still in development.
Just because a company files for a patent doesn’t mean they actually plan to use the technology, especially in regards to large tech companies with a lot of monetary resources. These are simply visions of the future that may or may not become a realized actuality. Back in 2015, we were teased with the possibility of Samsung releasing a smartphone that could fold in half like a notebook. The folding smartphone was said to be available as soon as January 2016, but we never did see it. Perhaps the public doesn’t want folding screens as much as we think we do and that’s why no one has made the push to make them widely available.
Bendable technology may or may not come to fruition, but curved screens are rumored to become more popular this year. As of now, the Galaxy S-Series Edge models are the only smartphones with curved screen technology, albeit rumors hint to the addition of more smartphones with curved screens. The Galaxy S8 is expected to come out with two different curved screen variations, and the Apple iPhone 8 is also expected to be equipped with a curved screen.