If there’s one issue with all foldable phones right now, it’s that they use plastic screens. This is because traditional glass screens and protective layers (e.g. Gorilla Glass) aren’t able to fold, forcing manufacturers to use an alternative material.
Now, ET News reports that Samsung’s next foldable phone will use ultra-thin glass (UTG) as the cover for the screen. The outlet reports that Samsung’s next device, which isn’t expected to be a new Galaxy Fold, will adopt a clamshell form factor. This new device will reveal a smartphone-sized screen when unfolded and protect the screen when folded (akin to clamshell feature phones). A change in form factor also suggests that Samsung hasn’t quite settled on a foldable phone design just yet.
ET News says Samsung has already started to produce foldable displays for this form factor, while a firm called Dowoo Insys has started production of the initial batch of ultra-thin glass.
“Although Samsung had looked into many different UTG manufacturers, Dowoo Insys clearly has the best technical skills when it comes to UTG,” an industry representative was quoted as saying by the outlet. “Its technical skills are four to five years ahead of its competitors.”
The outlet says ultra-thin glass undergoes an additional tempering process to improve its strength, although the exact nature of its creation is a trade secret. Nevertheless, a Samsung foldable phone with a glass screen cover should be more scratch-resistant than current, plastic-toting foldables.
Another industry representative told ET News that the next Galaxy Fold model might still use plastic anyway.
“Although UTG is excellent when it comes to aesthetic impression, it will take some time for UTG to be used on other smartphones as it is more fragile than transparent PI [polyimide – ed] and has high production cost with not enough production capability and yield rate (sic).”
This suggests that foldables using ultra-thin glass will be trading shatter resistance for scratch resistance, while the opposite seems to be the case for foldables with plastic screens.