LG Electronics said this week that it would work closely with its subsidiary LG Display in a bid to introduce a smartphone with flexible OLED screen this year. In case the company succeeds in launching a smartphone with virtually unbreakable screen in 2013, it will easily put itself into the line with such smartphone developers as Apple or Samsung Electronics.
Yoon Bu-hyun, vice president at LG's mobile business, said at a conference that the company will cooperate with affiliate LG Display to introduce a smartphone with a flexible OLED screen in the fourth quarter of calendar 2013, reports the Wall Street Journal. No exact details are clear today, but it looks like LG is closer to mass production of flexible OLEDs than its arch-rival Samsung Electronics.
LG shipped 10.3 million smartphones in Q1 2013, the highest for LG since it entered the smartphone race. In a bid to strengthen its smartphone offerings, LG has begun development of its own custom system-on-chips for smartphones. Flexible OLED screens could also further improve competitiveness of LG smartphones.
While LG has been developing flexible OLED displays for some time now, it has not demonstrated any outcomes of its developments so far, unlike Samsung Electronics, which is, according to official comments, years away from commercialization of smartphones with bendable displays. Last year LG promised to start mass production of flexible OLEDs in the second half of 2013.
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 earlier this year.