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Samsung: Flexible Displays Coming to Smartphones This Year

Are flexible display smartphones just around the corner?
March 1, 2012
Samsung Flexible OLED
It’s no secret that Samsung is working hard on producing flexible OLED displays, and that the Koreans eventually want to put bendable displays in all kinds of gadgets, from wristwatches to big screen TVs. Over the last year or so, we got to see all kind of crazy displays from Sammy, including bended displays (how would you like a round-shaped smartphone?), semitransparent screens, and even futuristic paper-like OLED screens.

Flexible Displays Are Moving Out of Beta

Samsung first announced their plans to put flexible OLEDs into real products back in June 2011. Then, in October, a Samsung spokesman confirmed that 2012 will be the year when flexible displays finally move out of beta. To produce the new class of displays, the Koreans are building an entire new plant, which is expected to begin fabrication in the second quarter of 2012. Here’s a demo video, courtesy of PhoneArena:

Yesterday, a Samsung executive offered us yet another confirmation that flexible OLEDs are on track for a 2012 debut. A Korean VP told the press that products with flexible screens are coming “within a year”. Hopefully, this means that we’ll be able to twist our phones later this year, or in the worst case, in the first quarter of 2013. The technology will first be introduced in smartphones, and later sized up or down for other applications, including wearable computers, tablets, or even TVs.


What Will the Flexible Screen Devices Look Like?

So what does Samsung plan to do with those crazy bendable OLEDs? I mean the concept is fantastic, but how will it play with the constraints of a modern smartphone? As it turns out, there is a difference between a flexible display and a bendable display. A flexible OLED screen does not necessarily bend as a sheet of paper. Remember Nokia’s demonstration of a flexible smartphone that you can control by twisting? That’s probably what Samsung has in mind when talking about flexible display.

The flexible AMOLED display technology looks like a glimpse of the future, but for now, its potential is limited by the other components that make up a smartphone, such as batteries and chips. So it’s not likely that we will see a truly bendable device in the near future. But even if you can’t roll it or bend it, a flexible display has its advantages. Most importantly, smartphones fitted with flexible AMOLEDs will be incredibly resistant to shock, almost unbreakable. How’s that possible? Flexible AMOLED replace the traditional glass substrate with a polyamide, a type of bendable plastic that doesn’t shatter.

Another advantage of flexible substrates is the fact that you can bend them, which makes round displays easy to manufacture. When the technology becomes cheap enough for mass production, we expect to see a flurry of wacky circular devices incorporating OLED screens.

What Would you Like to See?

So, flexible AMOLED screens are very real and are indeed coming soon to smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets. How would you like to see the technology implemented? A wearable wrist computer? A draw-out flexible screen that you can pull out of your smartphone? A foldable tablet? Go crazy and let us know!