Bendable Smartphone Displays in the Works at Samsung: Report

One of the two rumored versions would fold over like a cosmetic compact, with both models potentially being available from Samsung by early 2017.

Samsung, bendable displays, Apple, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Active, Galaxy S7 Edge, flexible display, smartphones

Two smartphones models with bendable screens, including one version that will have a 5-inch screen that can be unfolded into an 8-inch screen, are in the works at Samsung and could be available to consumers by early 2017.

The two handsets, which were revealed by unidentified people who are familiar with the new products, are under considered for production by Samsung and would use organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays, according to a June 6 story by Bloomberg.

One of the bendable screen smartphones "folds in half like a cosmetic compact," while the other model would allow a user to expand the available display screen by simply unfolding the device, making it more like a tablet, the story reported.

Samsung already makes its unique Galaxy S7 Edge smartphones, which feature a display that wraps around both sides of the handset, allowing the edges to display information to users. The screens don't bend on the S7 Edge models but show the company's desire to provide information to users in new ways.

By beating its key rival Apple to the market with long-rumored bendable displays, Samsung could create a product that could attract customers to buy its devices over Apple's in a highly competitive global marketplace. Apple has also been working on developing bendable displays for use in its products.

The bendable screen versions are code-named Project Valley, according to Bloomberg, and could be shown off by Samsung at the huge smartphone event, Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, Spain in February, the story reported. "That timing would give Samsung a head start on Apple's iPhone using OLED screens that may be released later in 2017," the source told Bloomberg.

The potential new devices would not be marketed as part of Samsung's established Galaxy line, the story added. The source also told the news service that Samsung is considering plans to name the next version of its Note device line the "Note 7" handset, which would skip a digit from the existing Note 5 model.

Samsung and some other vendors, including Apple, have been interested in flexible or bendable displays for some time. Back in August 2013, Samsung launched a contest with a $1,000 grand prize to seek out ideas for the best uses for flexible displays, according to an earlier eWEEK story. In January 2013, the company's Samsung Display Lab introduced a brand called Youm and early prototypes that featured bendable displays.

In March 2013, Apple filed a patent request for an electronic device with a wrap-around display that also described a flexible display that could be folded to "form a continuous loop such that images (still or video) can be presented in a wrap-around manner in which the images appear to be presented in a continuous loop."

Samsung's latest Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones debuted in March. The Galaxy S7 features a 5.1-inch quad-HD Super AMOLED display (2,560 by 1,440) while the Galaxy S7 Edge features a 5.5-inch quad-HD Super AMOLED display (2,560 by 1,440). Both models include always-on displays for the time and other information. Both also are powered by Qualcomm quad-core 2.15GHz and 1.6GHz processors for U.S. users and include 4GB of LPDDR4 memory, 32GB of built-in storage and microSD expansion slots that support storage cards up to 200GB. The Galaxy S7 has a 3,000mAh battery, while the Galaxy S7 Edge is equipped with a 3,600mAh battery.

Samsung's latest Galaxy handset, the Galaxy S7 Active, a ruggedized version of the S7, will be available starting June 10, exclusively through AT&T, according to a recent eWEEK report. The handset follows the ruggedized Galaxy S6 Active that launched in mid-2015, but gains a bevy of improvements from the latest Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge phones.

The upcoming Galaxy S7 Active has a shatter-resistant and water-resistant 5.1-inch Super AMOLED Quad HD touch-screen display and meets IP68 certification to withstand water exposure of up to 5 feet for 30 minutes. Aimed at users who work and use their phones in hostile environmental and physical conditions, the S7 Active also meets MIL-STD- 810G specifications for dirt, dust, temperature, shock and salt resistance. The 5.1-inch display is the same size as the one found on the Galaxy S7 handset. The phone is priced at $795.