Flexible smartphones might be right around the corner

by: John DyeFebruary 18, 2016
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Wibbly wobbly smartphone screens have been a dream of mobile enthusiasts for years now, but the tech has always seemed disappointingly out of reach. Although we’ve seen showcases of flexible screens before, the commercial viability of these products has always seemed decades in the future. However, Queens University has just brought a prototype to the table that might be a game changer.

5.6" WQHD flexible AMOLED panel (PRNewsFoto/EDO)See also: China boosts flexible display efforts with a new 5.6-inch QHD AMOLED panel3

The device is called the ReFlex, and it looks pretty flipping sweet. The LG OLED display is completely flexible and sports a 720p resolution. The development team has integrated bend sensors and haptic feedback into the device, which lets it detect and respond to flexing. The ReFlex runs Android 4.4 with most of the hardware tucked away into the prototype’s non-flexible casing on either side of the display.

In the showcase, users demonstrated how the flexible screen could have practical applications, such as turning pages in e-books and comics or pulling back the slingshot in Angry Birds. What’s particularly interesting is that the haptic feedback lets you really feel each page turn and the gathering tension of a slingshot’s cords being stretched. Queens Media Lab director Roel Vertegaal attests that this kind of interface offers a much more natural reading experience. The bending motion combines with subtle vibrations to replicate paging through physical documents in a way that no virtual reader has managed to achieve yet.

Lg flexible display (1)See also: Report: flexible displays will dominate the future with foldable, rollable and even stretchable panels5

Researchers are showing off their work at a conference in the Netherlands today, and they say that they believe this tech could hit commercial devices by 2021. However, this prototype looks so slick that some sources, like Engadget, are saying that we might see this quite a bit sooner.

What are your thoughts regarding flexible screen technology? More of a gimmick than a feature, or is this the way the mobile industry is going to head in the future? Let us know your opinions and speculation in the comments below!

best-of-android-displayNext: Best of Android 2015: Display39
  • Daggett Beaver

    “Flexible smartphones might be right around the corner”

    I see what you did there.

  • John Cross

    Other than the two chunky sections at the top and bottom where could the components even be seated? Haven’t seen flexible components yet..

    • anonymous

      A flexible battery right behind the screen and the rest of the components (which are not that bulky) on top and botom of the screen. It could be as big as the smartphones we have now.

  • Neel

    Why in the world is it running KitKat?

  • Andrew White

    2021 means the current smartphone form factor still has more to offer we the user/consumer over the next 5 years, or does it?
    The rate at which mobile communications tech is evolving now, 5 years is a very long time and alternatives will appear. 3D holographic projection is just one.
    Wrap around flexible screens make less sense than a foldable or expandable flat screen mounted on ones wrist, in terms of actual useable visual area.
    Nevertheless someone needs to start the ball rolling.

    • King_Android

      This ^^

  • Rohit Raja

    Whaaaa, flippin page on it looks radical….

  • Don_Alduck

    Slowly, but surely…we’re getting there.

  • King_Android

    Giimick. Still impractical until its completely foldable. Just because it bend just gives it a unique way of functioning like that gimmick APple introduced with their touch sensitive screens. This isnt game changing, but once it becomes a true foldable screen then thats when I can see it being practical in cellphone use. This isnt.

  • Grant D

    Actually, the Arubixs Portal was a flexible waterproof smartphone…