Samsung announced today that it is preparing to release a smartphone with a curved screen in October, according to BBC News and other sources. The company has invested significant time and money in developing organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays, which are being used in development of curved and flexible screens because they don't require a backlight and aren't limited to being used with rigid materials, such as glass. This new handset could be a first step toward Samsung's goal of producing flexible screens for a new generation of pliable portables.
Samsung's head of strategic marketing for mobile business, D.J. Lee, declined to give further details or specs at a South Korean event for the company's smartwatch, Galaxy Gear, but, according to the Wall Street Journal, a Korean patent Samsung filed in June (below) shows a slightly concave screen.
It has seemed for a few years now that Samsung views flexible devices—technology that is foldable, rollable, or generally malleable—as a way of differentiating its products and evolving in the highly competitive smartphone market. The company released a curved 55-inch TV (above) after showing prototypes of the television and a flexible-screen smartphone at CES last January. But competitors like LG are working on flexible tech as well. OLED screens, which have been in development for about 15 years now, are appealing because each pixel gives off its own light, eliminating the need for the battery-sucking backlights that are used in liquid crystal displays (LCD).
A curved screen smartphone from Samsung would only be a first step into the world of flexible tech, and whatever the company releases in October will probably be a high end product. But Samsung can use the handset to test consumer interest in flexible screens and experiment with how the technology wears in the wild. If flexible tech takes off Samsung may end up, you know, ahead of the curve.