Emerging Smartphone Trend: ‘Flexible Screens’

Smartphone manufacturers are racing to create mainstream curbed-screen devices that are so bendable they can fold multiple times to fit it in your pocket or purse.

Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics recently became the first companies to release flexible-screen smartphones, but they are only available in the South Korean market so far. It’s part of the companies’ test runs to gauge consumers’ appetites for the bendable devices. Samsung’s Galaxy Round smartphone is selling for $1,000, and LG’s G Flex phone has yet to disclose pricing.

Experts say the flexible screens can have lots of benefits to users, such as lighter displays and screens that don’t crack as easily. Manufacturers are replacing the glass in the back panel of the phones with plastic but are finding that the bendable technology poses challenges. Plastic makes the devices more vulnerable to scratches and moisture getting inside the screen, two big hurdles they’re working to overcome.

Samsung reportedly is working on making the plastic scratch-proof, highly resistant to heat, and elastic enough that it can bend at sharp angles, yet still as clear as glass, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Curves are a preliminary step towards the realization of flexible displays,” says Lee Bang-soo, a senior vice president at LG Display Co., which makes screens for companies such as Apple. “The technology behind this will allow for the development of new products that are … bendable, foldable, and rollable.”

Source: “Smartphone Makers Race to Build Flexible Screens,” The Wall Street Journal (Nov. 4, 2013) and “LG Electronics Unveils Curved Smartphone in Race Against Samsung,” Reuters (Oct. 28, 2013)