Samsung Electronics said that although it is interested in making smartphones with flexible displays that do not break when impacted or dropped, such devices are still far away. A good news is that Samsung seems to have a roadmap for such products, a bad news is that this roadmap is internal and the company does not disclose when such products become available.
“[Smartphones with bendable touchscreens are] still far off. We know that many people are interested in this technology but it will take some time and I cannot disclose the timing,” said J.K. Shin, the head of Samsung mobile business unit, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
Last year it was reported that Samsung Display, a producer of display panels that belongs to Samsung, was in the last phase of development of flexible displays for mobile devices and that devices on their base would be released in the first half of next year. Moreover, a rumour emerged late last year that Samsung Electronics’ next-generation Galaxy S IV flagship smartphone would feature bendable screen technology, which will make its display unbreakable.
Samsung demonstrated rather weird product prototypes with flexible displays at Mobile World Congress 2012. The company also demonstrated bendable screens code-named Youm at Consumer Electronics Show 2013. Brian Berkeley, senior vice president of Samsung Display, showcased a smartphone prototype equipped with a curved edge that showed contiguous content along the side of the device.
Demonstration of a flexible Youm display at CES 2013. Image by PCMagazine.
Bendable displays are virtually unbreakable and naturally provide a lot of opportunities when it comes to creation of innovation shapes of smartphone. It should be noted that besides installing innovative flexible displays on smartphones, manufacturers need to ensure that the software can take advantage of such technology as well.
The head of Corning Glass Technologies, a leading maker of glass substrates for smartphones, tablets and other consumer electronics, claims that manufacturers will only start to utilize Willow flexible glass in three years’ time. Although Corning sent samples of Willow flexible glass to makers of various advanced CE devices, such as smartphones, tablets and TVs in June, 2012, actual advanced products are not expected to hit the market in 2013. The Willow glass should be used in some simple products this year, such as a flexible barrier for solar panels or as a thin film behind some touch panels. However, big name customers will spend a long time, before taking full advantage of Willow glass.
“People are not accustomed to glass you roll up. The ability of people to take it and use it to make a product is limited,” said James Clappin, president of Corning Glass Technologies, in an interview last month.