The smart phone market is constantly changing with new and improved technology to lure you into buying a new phone before you really need to. Some of the latest draws seem to be improved cameras and HD displays but what about a curved or flexible display? Samsung recently revealed that it will be launching a much anticipated curved display phone in the next month as reported by Reuters here.

Samsung has debuted prototype devices with curved and flexible screens, with the curved screen phone launching in South Korea sometime in October. This marks the first in what could become the next wave of development for smart phones, tablets, and other display devices. The flexible display technology is still not fully developed or economical to produce on a large scale, but these first steps are what will lead to malleable and foldable designs that will be able to wrap around your wrist and possibly be more forgiving than a rigid design in tough conditions.

It is important to stress the difference between curved screen and flexible screen technology as the two are very different and could easily be confused. Curved display technology utilizes Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLED) to produce a fixed and rigid, but curved, display that is lightweight and provides brilliant image quality. The lightweight quality comes from the OLED display technology, which does not require a backlight. This allows an OLED-incorporating device to be lighter and thinner than traditional flat-panel displays.. This technology is currently available in a select number of large screen flat-panel TVs but is extremely expensive and out of reach to the average consumer, with prices just below an entry level sedan. The curved display advantage for a phone would be the lightweight and hard-to-break design of its plastic construction, which would help cure the common plague of smartphones: shattered screens.

Flexible screen technology is still being developed for consumers by major manufacturers like Samsung, LG, and Sony, but holds a lot of potential for the future. While there are a few specialized suppliers who make flexible LED screens presently, they are so costly that they are used only in large commercial applications. This technology builds on the OLED design but with added flexibility in the construction that allow the display to bend, twist, and even stretch in some cases.  The possibilities for this type of display are effectively endless and could open up new uses for displays that were not previously possible. As the manufacturing process for this type of display is streamlined and technology improves, the cost should come within reach of small businesses and consumers.

As with any new and potentially profitable design with multiple big name players in the mix, there have been a large number of lawsuits involving LG, Samsung, Kodak, and private companies over the OLED technology. These lawsuits argued that patents pertaining to design, construction, and intellectual property were violated by competitors, most notably the serious of lawsuits between Samsung and LG that involved dishonest employees on both sides. Lawsuits and high price tags aside, there should be some interesting innovations in the cell phone and display markets in the coming years.

Photo courtesy of CNet.com
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Chris Sytko

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  1. I think it's funny to watch these big companies feud over a technology that none have mastered. The amount of work that needs to be done still is outstanding. I'd much rather wait years even to get a fully working piece of tech featuring flexible or curved screens. Although I know on the curved screen front, its more much doable currently. Thanks for sharing this!

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