Flexible displays in 2014 – LG and Samsung are winners, but Nokia could shape the future

June 7, 2014
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Flexible Displays Samsung LG Nokia

There is a good chance you did not hear about the SID 2014 conference that ended today in San Diego. The Society for Information Display (SID) academic conference ran all this past week with one focus, display technology. Now that it is over, if we had to choose a theme for the conference, it would have been ‘flexible displays.’

The event handed out six awards, in three categories, with an overwhelming 5 of the 6 awards going to either curved devices or materials that support flexible displays. The big winners, as related directly to the smartphones we carry with us, started with Samsung taking a gold award for Display of the Year for their 5.68-inch FHD curved AMOLED display. The LG G Flex took gold in the Display Application of the Year category, rocking its 6-inch curved display.

LG G Flex vs Samsung Galaxy Round Quick Look Hands on AA (4 of 11)

Curved vs flexible displays

The above mentioned units offer a great curved experience, with some flexibility, but let us not confuse that with being bendable to any significant degree. Nokia may not have taken any awards at the SID conference, but they may just be the ones to watch for the future of flexible displays.

Nokia, along with Semiconductor Energy Laboratory (SEL) Co Ltd and Advanced Film Device (AFD) Inc announced a 5.9-inch OLED panel with the ability to fold to an amazing 2mm radius. Now, that’s what I call a flexible display. In their application, the display was made to fold in half, like a book, and into a “three-fold” display, with two folds.

Nokia Display Book fold

The display provides a 720p resolution, or 249ppi, which may not be anyone’s definition of a high-end display, but is some of the best resolution we’ve seen for a display with this level of flexibility. That 2mm radius means that the fold is not quite touching, and certainly cannot take a pressed down crease, but should last you more than 100,000 bends, says SEL.

Nokia Display Tri fold

Now for the geeky stuff, just skip this paragraph if you want. The display is made by forming a release layer, sealing layer and color filter layer on one piece of glass, then a release layer, sealing layer, TFT layer and an OLED layer on another piece of glass. Attach those two together, peel off the glass and replace with a sealing and flexible substrate. Nice and simple.

No word on what actual plans Nokia has for these amazingly flexible displays, but it may just be that the first truly foldable-display-equipped mobile devices come out of the Microsoft camp.

Where do you think the future of flexible mobile devices is headed?

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