A Samsung executive has confirmed that the company will soon introduce a smartphone with a curved display.
D.J. Lee, Samsung’s mobile business head of strategic marketing, said the phone will launch in South Korea in October, Reuters reported Sept. 25.
While older smartphones, including the Samsung-made Google Nexus S and Nokia Lumia 920, have featured what manufacturers called curved displays, the reference is likely (hopefully) to something a bit more dramatic.
In January, at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, Samsung introduced a new brand called Youm, which Stephen Woo, president of Samsung’s Device Solutions Division, said “doesn’t just bend the rules of display technologies, it completely rewrites them.”
Samsung showed off two prototype devices, one with a very flexible display (its texture and capabilities seemed akin to photo negatives) that rolled up inside a small phone chassis, and another with a display that spilled over the side of the device, enabling alerts to be viewed when the phone’s main screen was dark or covered.
These, along with prototypes featured in the short film Samsung played, were pie-in-the-sky ideas, offering a glimpse at the possibilities.
In August, Samsung launched a contest in search of great applications for its flexible display technology.
“We are calling on the most innovative designers, hardware engineers and entrepreneurs to develop new product ideas that put our revolutionary Flexible Display technology to use in ways that will define the future,” Samsung announced on its site, setting an Oct. 6 deadline and a Grand Prize of $10,000.
In addition to the know-how at Youm, the October smartphone is likely to benefit from Samsung’s experience making curved displays for its large-screen televisions.
“My understanding is that these new phones will form part of Samsung’s Active range, so the curved screen is probably to do with making the phone more flexible and rugged,” Ben Wood an analyst with CCS Insight, told the BBC, according to a Sept. 25 report.
“A curved screen isn’t going to radically change the user’s experience of a smartphone,” Wood added, “but it does help Samsung differentiate itself in a crowded market where most phones are homogeneous, flat-screen rectangles.”
In March, Apple filed a patent for, among other things, a “flexible display assembly” that would enable the back of a phone, currently unused real estate, to be put to use as well.
It’s expected that Apple will soon join Samsung in the flexible display space, as well as in the smartwatch market.
Samsung introduced the Galaxy Gear smartwatch on Sept. 4, along with the Galaxy Note 3, a phablet with a 5.7-inch display that’s for now the only device that can pair with the watch.
The Wall Street Journal reported in July that Apple is considering also supporting larger display sizes and his been experimenting with larger versions of the iPhone and iPad. Unnamed officials at Apple supply companies said Apple had tried out a version of the iPad with a display measuring just under 13 inches, a considerable increase from the 9.7-inch display on the current iPad.