LG will reportedly release a flexible OLED smartphone this year
Aside from 4K and 8K, the only other significant advance in display technology that is currently within our reach is making one that’s flexible. Consumer electronics events have been showing off flexible displays for a while now, but they’re generally the equivalent of a tech demo rather than a marketable product. However, a new report suggests that LG will be bringing a smartphone with a flexible OLED display to market sometime this year.
The Wall Street Journal reports that as the television side of LG’s business is losing steam due to an overly competitive market, the company will bet more on its mobile sector. Teaming up with its affiliate LG Display, LG aims to bring a flexible smartphone to the consumer market sometime toward the end of this year. From just January to March alone, the company has shipped 10.3 million smartphones, and projects to ship a total of 45 million this year, so it does have quite a large market into which it can attempt to infuse a flexible display.
Unfortunately, the only details available on the supposed flexible OLED smartphone are just those. The level of flexibility, or exactly how one would utilize a smartphone capable of some level of flexibility, have not yet been disclosed. Back at CES this year, Samsung showed off some flexible displays, but those just amounted to a somewhat curved smartphone and television — not exactly a revolutionary use of a mobile flexible display. So far, what many of us are hoping for with regards to a flexible mobile display — a clamshell smartphone with a touchscreen that folds neatly in half — remains to be seen. Rather than having an oddly-shaped smartphone, though, Samsung did show off a flexible display where the edges of the screen were folded around the side of the device, providing a new area on which to display information. Would that be all that a flexible display could provide?
Aside from added durability, a flexible display could add another level of control to a device. Smartphones are easy enough to control, sure, but being able to manipulate the body as a form of input could be beneficial. Around two years ago, Nokia showed off a flexible display, called the Nokia Kinetic Device (video below). The device recognized being bent and twisted as a form of input. So, if you’re trudging through a winter storm listening to some music, you can theoretically bend the phone in your pocket to skip to the next song or change the volume, rather than removing your gloves and poking around your touchscreen. Again, not exactly revolutionary, but it could be useful in certain situations.
One device where a flexible display does make immediate sense is the oft-rumored smartwatch. The human wrist isn’t quite a big, flat area on which a large-enough screen could comfortably sit. However, if a smartwatch display wrapped around the wrist in some fashion, then it would be easier to convey more information, which would also become more legible thanks to the larger surface area.
As for LG’s flexible smartphone, if it truly is releasing sometime at the end of this year, we won’t have to wait too long to find out how much more durability a flexible display adds to our devices, and if bending and twisting will be a viable form of input.
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