Samsung was again early to market Oct. 9, introducing the world's first smartphone with a curved display, the Galaxy Round. The smartphone will be available in Korea Oct. 10.
The Round features a 5.7-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display, is 0.3 inches thick, weighs 5.4 ounces, and features a brushed-metal outlining detail and, like the Note 3, a back with exposed stitching and soft leather (or some approximation of leather).
It's also, of course, slightly rounded.
The long sides of the phone gently slope up toward one another. The main reason for this seems to be simply to make the large device more comfortable and secure in the hand. Which is no small thing. Since the Galaxy S III, with its 4.8-inch display, Samsung's large-screen devices have felt overly large and warm and slippery. For many, one-handed usage is out of the question. The Round may change that—not only by making it easier to hold on to but, thanks to those sides tipping toward one another, by making it more feasible for a thumb to reach across, or even nearly across, the display.
Samsung says the shape of the Round also makes a few other features possible. One is called the Roll Effect. When the Round is placed on a desk or table, a user can tip it toward herself with a finger. The rolling motion wakes the display and shows the time, date, battery information and whether a user missed a call.
Tipping the Round to the right or left is also a way to control music. Samsung explained in an Oct. 9 blog post:
"When the Galaxy Round's display is off while the music player is running, a short press to the left of the device will play the previous track, while a short press to the right will play the next track."
Additionally, "For pictures and videos, the Side Mirror feature enables users to gain access to a list of the album content with a left and right tilt."
To complement its tremendous display, Samsung has included its Multi Window feature, enabling one app to run in a small window on top of another app, or for multiple instances of the same app—two Word documents, for example—to be positioned side by side.
One-Hand Operation is also included, enabling a user to put her most desired controls closer to the side of the screen she prefers.
Samsung will make the Round immediately available in a shade it calls Luxury Brown, with more color options to follow "soon."
Samsung currently makes televisions with curved displays, as does LG Electronics, which has said it has a curved-display smartphone in production now. Since at least early 2011, there have also been reports of Apple experimenting with curved glass or planning a curved-display iPhone.
In August, Samsung launched a contest (since closed) looking for innovative ways to put its "revolutionary Flexible Display technology to use, in ways that will define the future."
On Sept. 4, Samsung introduced the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, entering a nascent market that nearly all of its largest rivals, Apple included, are expected to participate in.