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.