Samsung and LG are going to mass produce flexible displays in November – report

by: Bogdan PetrovanAugust 20, 2013

samsung youm flexible bezel

Flexible (plastic-based) displays have been a long way coming. Samsung, one of the leading developers of the technology, has been showing off prototypes of flexible panels at trade shows for years now. But it seems we’re finally on the verge of seeing the technology used in real life products.

According to the Korean outlet ETNews, both Samsung Display and LG Display are going to achieve limited mass production of flexible panels this November. Samsung is reportedly able to produce up to 1.5 million 5-6 inches panels a month, assuming yields of 100 percent, while LG could churn out about 500,000 panels a month under ideal conditions.

As it usually happens with new technologies, actual yields are likely to be far lower, meaning that the supply of plastic-based panels is going to be insufficient for either company to produce a high-profile flagship device based on a flexible panel. However, production capacity might be sufficient for a limitedly available series to showcase the potential of the new tech, with more capacity to be added if market response is positive.

First generation devices equipped with flexible panels won’t be flexible themselves. Rather than that, the flexible panels will be enclosed in rigid glass, like the Youm prototypes that Samsung showed on the stage of CES in January.

The main benefit that plastic-based panels will bring to the first devices will be greater endurance – a plastic based panel won’t break, though the glass covering it will. Flexible panels are also thinner and lighter than glass-based panels, meaning that phone makers have more freedom to increase battery life or pursue even thinner designs.

  • Konrad

    Note 3 please !

    • MasterMuffin

      Not going to make it, but Note 4! *sigh*

    • jamesinkorea

      Note 3 is going to look the same as the Note 2 / S3, S4….

      Thanks for nothing Samsung!

  • OMGgary

    Drop Test 2: The Phone Strikes Back

  • Luka Mlinar

    As i understand it manufacturers found out that they can make phones with flexible displayes and got all excited like little children. Then after a few months no one came up with a good idea on how to implement it. Now Samsung resorted to paying people 10K if they could figure out how to make it work. I’m not sure if this whole thing is funny or sad.

    • OMGgary

      The only other parts I have read about, so far, taking steps toward flexibility is the battery tech. Until all the other bits of the phone are flexible as well, or at least the vast majority of the parts, I don’t know how much of an impression just having a flexible display alone is going to make on the mobile world.

      If parts like the digitiser and the circuitry around the SOC are still rigid, then it will IMO probably stay very limited. I suspect that a digitiser may be easy enough to make from a flexible material, but difficult to make it both flexible and tough enough to resist damage from more focussed pressure. By focussed pressure, I mean the kind of event that typically causes scratches on the screens of current touchscreens. Hard contact with something, such as for example car keys, that can damage a toughened glass screen, could possibly gouge right through a flexible digitiser and even affect the flexible display beneath. There are so many problems like this that must be solved before flexible devices can reach their potential.

      Also, if someone does come up a genuine great brainwave, then they’d be mad to let Samsung have it for just 10K.

      • Luka Mlinar

        I see this working sooner on tablets then in phones.

    • You Are All Dust in The Wind!

      I find it more sad that apple got the patent for flexible screen on a smartphone in US when they didnt even have a prototype so samsung and lg is in trouble for getting sued.

      I can’t believe apple can patent mere ideas without proof of a working prototype.

      • Luka Mlinar

        All you really need is a drawing to patent anything in the US.

        • David

          That’s why US patent system is so messed up…

    • David

      It’s not how to make it work. The contest is applying flexible display to the real life scenarios. I think it is great idea that Samsung is having this contest to get feed back from people who will actually be using it. Technology alone is not enough. Application of the technology goes hand in had. Personally, I think flexible display can be used in wrist bracer/watch, display in the car the contours around dashboard edge, rolled screen, etc.