In the technological race to develop foldable screens for mass consumer user, Samsung may have taken a very large bound towards the future of screen durability. It may not be a screen you can roll up and stick in your pocket yet it’s almost guaranteed to be a step above a rigid screen prone to cracking and shattering. The kicker? It could be in phones before the year is out.
2018 has been an interesting year for Samsung between the launch of a purposefully internet-free phone and an ongoing race with their competitors to rush a flexible or foldable phone screen to market. While multi-display models featuring hinged displays are certainly within the realm of reality, we still have yet to see a phone that is truly flexible on its own merits.
Yet Samsung has revealed its flexible OLED screen that has already undergone certification by Underwriters Laboratories, meaning it’s already fit for rollout in consumer-grade devices and could be in a phone before the year is out. Previously, the phone rumor mill assumed a release date of early 2019 for any flexible screen models of Samsung phones and that’s still entirely possible, but a sturdier phone could be just around the corner.
Fellow phone manufacturer Huawei has been outspoken in its race with Samsung to produce a flexible phone in a move they call symbolic. If they’ve been hiding their own advancements in the field of flexibility, now’s the time to show their hand before they lose out on the race they seem to have started. Considering the same source postulated on a Samsung phone that can be folded entirely in half and supposedly without any hinges, one has to wonder what Huawei will offer up in response.
One of the most exciting highlights about Samsung’s new screen is its supposed durability, with the company claiming repeated drop tests from a height of four feet have left the new screen without any noticeable damage. That’s not terribly common considering just how many consumer cell phones wind up with cracked screens before the end of their technological lifespan. Granted, Samsung has shown durable screens before in their Active line of Galaxy phones, but Active models often take several months of development above and beyond each cycle of phone release while these new flexible screens seem slated for flagship models.
This kind of news could be just what the mobile industry needs after global cell phone sales fell for the first time in over a decade, though Samsung still held on to the top slot in sales despite a dip in performance. Interestingly enough, Huawei reported year-over-year growth in this underperforming quarter along with fellow competitor Xiaomi.
Given Samsung’s interest in other consumer-grade markets, they’ve also predicted that this new flexible screen technology may have applications in non-mobile applications ranging from televisions to portable game consoles and even military-oriented devices. Anyone who has ever dropped a tablet or scratched the screen of a vehicle’s built-in display will doubtlessly find reasons to appreciate more pliable screen construction.
While we may be several months away from physically holding and experimenting with these new flexible screens, Samsung’s announcement is still enticing enough to bring into question their phone manufacturing goals over the next couple of years. Are we finally going to enter an era where we can fold our phones up and keep them in our pocket rather than putting up with giant inflexible slabs of plastic and aluminum? It’s hard to say, but it’s still exciting to consider the possibility.