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LG could beat Samsung to market with first commercial flexible displays

LG Display is aiming to ship the first flexible displays for mobile applications this year, beating Samsung Display to the market.
April 10, 2013
samsung flexible display
Flexible display prototypes by Samsung

LG Display is aiming to ship the first flexible displays for mobile applications this year, beating Samsung to the market.

Flexible displays have been a common appearance at consumer electronics shows and in technology predictions columns for the past couple of years. Samsung in particular has touted its upcoming flexible OLED displays, branded Youm, as the next big thing for mobile devices. At CES 2013, the Korean conglomerate showed us how Youm could be integrated into innovative product designs, like foldable tablets and smartphones with intelligent bezels.

For all the rumors and hype, Samsung has so far failed to bring an actual flexible display product to market. The Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 2, and Galaxy S4 were all rumored to have unbreakable, plastic-based panels at some point, but needless to say, that didn’t happen. Now it seems that LG could beat Samsung at its own game and ship the first commercial batches of flexible displays this year, ahead of the Galaxy maker.

The news was buried in a Korea Times column that discusses the advances in display technology that LG has achieved in the past year. The display-making unit of LG is already ahead of Samsung Display in the race to bring the next generation of OLED TVs to market, and also when it comes to UHD (4K) displays. If the report is accurate, it’s possible that LG will manage to steal the spotlight from its crosstown rival with the first flexible displays used in commercial devices.

LG has also expanded to flexible displays, which can be twisted and bent and used for next-generation tablets and smartphones. In partnership with Korea’s finance ministry, LG aims to ship its first batch of flexible displays later this year, also ahead of Samsung.

Even if LG manages to reach production yields for its flexible display tech ahead of Samsung, don’t hold your breath for any crazy designs. Most likely, the initial products will feature curved panels encased in rigid glass, similar to the smart bezel prototype that Samsung showcased at CES in January.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been hearing about LG’s plans to deliver flexible displays. In August of last year, it was revealed that LG had accelerated its production roadmap, in an effort to market the first flexible panels products by the end of 2013. However, Samsung was believed to be ahead of LG at the time.

On a semi-related note, LG Display, in collaboration with the Korean government, plans to create 60-inch UHD, transparent OLED panels by 2017.

It’s exciting to learn that two of the largest display makers in the world are close to solving the flexible display puzzle. With product design stagnating (there are only so many ways to fit a touchscreen on a slab after all), a breakthrough is sorely needed. Too bad the rivalry between LG and Samsung often crosses the line of ethics and legality.