You may remember way back in 2010 when Samsung first demonstrated a new flexible display technology, wowing onlookers and begging the question "what's the application?"

Well Richard Windsor, a senior technology analyst at Normura Group, has answered that question, indicating that Sammy plans to include foldable displays in future devices. Specifically, Normura's Asian analysts have indicated that the manufacturer is expected to use foldable display technology to entirely eliminate the appearance of side bezels around a smartphone screen. The analysts added the display would be unbreakable, would enhance "the exceptionally thin form factor," and will debut some time in 2012.

image seamlessfoldabledisplay

Left: Mock up of rumored bezel-less smartphone. Right: Diagram of folding clamshell display like the one Samsung demoed at FPD 2010 (Credit: Forbes and PhysOrg)

The displays would evidently be based on a plastic substrate, making them lighter and thinner, and adding to the flexible display's inherently unique design requirements. While the practical application of flexible display technology may sound like something customers will have to wait years for, Normura's analysts give a bit of hope:

We expect Samsung to mass produce such panels for smartphones in 2012, which we believe would be more popular that the current OLED display equipped in SEC’s Galaxy S II … Plastic displays will change the perception of handsets and tablet PCs in terms of design, thickness, and weight, and this would clearly differentiate Samsung’s products from others, in our view. This is why we like Samsung.

The fact that foldable displays are very close to being in the hands of consumers may not be a surprise to some, though. Samsung has been very open about the technology, publicly writing in its corporate profile that the manufacturer is "striving to brighten the future with next-generation technologies such as foldable, flexible, and transparent displays," and showing off a foldable prototype last year.

Next to nothing is known about when we may actually see this technology in a smartphone, but you can bet we'll be here to report on any new details that emerge going forward.

Via Forbes

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • http://turbofool.com TurboFool

    I suspect the practical use won't be to put a display on the side, but indeed to remove the bezel as described. Currently the bezel exists essentially because there has to be some sort of edge to the display. There have to be connections to all the edges, and there has to be some element of an end that has to be mounted. This means something has to cover that up, which is currently the bezel. By bending or folding the edges they can put that end point into the side of the phone and allow the actual screen portion to go all the way to the literal edge of the screen before it folds.

    Yes, perhaps some day someone will come up with clever use for actual display along the edge, but I suspect that'll be mostly niche. Initially I think we'll just see the bezel-less designs.

    • Alex1x

      How about LED volume rocker, replace all the side buttons with touch (button less). I see that happening and would be cool if implemented properly :)

      • Aaron

        If so, they could essentially make a volume slider there, where you could just move the slider up or down via touch.

      • http://turbofool.com TurboFool

        Oh my god, no. There's a reason the side buttons are buttons: because you need to be able to feel for them. You need to be able to find them in your pocket to adjust the volume while listening to music, or along the side to turn the phone on without having to turn it to look for the button. Plus you need to be able to hold and grip your phone without accidentally pushing non-buttons by merely touching them. Plus, even if that wasn't a bad idea, it could already be done without this new technology. Nothing to stop them from doing it now except for it causing a ton of problems for usage.

    • Bob

      Just wanted to say I love your Reboot avatar

      • http://turbofool.com TurboFool

        I've got my eye on you, Guardian...

  • Tkun

    If the Galaxy S3 has this flexible display and comes to Verizon, I'm quite sure I'll die a happy man.

  • Lachlan

    great! something else for samsung to ruin with their awful touchwiz ui!!

    • Joey

      I actually love Touchwiz. It's fast, simple, and elegant. It's the best Android UI out there.

      Motoblur is self explanatory. Sense is bloated and ugly, even with their latest one.

  • Al McDowall

    A flexible display is one thing. Repeatedly folding a substance into a crease is completely different. Over time the crease will weaken the material and it will either crack or break completely.

    • Peter

      The particular foldable disply has been tested over 100,000 times. (folding).

      The "weakness" is not the issue here. It's the brightness on the creases.

      Samsung's tests showed a decrease of only 10% in the region where the crease was.

  • http://mgamerzproductions.com Mgamerz

    apple already patented having anything to do with a smartphone, they'll sue them soon

  • z0mghii

    It's over for apple.

    • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com Ritesh

      Worry not, Apple will bully some small firm and buy a few patents or the firm itself or just snatch/steal the tech off the firm if need be and patent it first with a twist to the words used in the filing, bring in some kind of foldable display, claim to have invented it and the sheep will flock. Life will go on!

  • Freak4Dell

    This doesn't seem like a good idea, in my opinion. The bezel serves as a place to rest parts of your hand without touching the screen itself. Imagine always touching the screen, causing it to do weird things like pop up long-press menus, or press random buttons that you don't mean to, or move pages as you're trying to read a book.

    • scott

      Yes, I'm sure Sammy never even thought about that... *eyeroll*

    • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com Ritesh

      And what makes you think Samsung or the designers have given no thought to this?

      • deX

        Um, how about the current inexplicable trend to eliminate physical buttons? I hate touch buttons.. keep pressing them accidentally and activating them all the time (particularly while scrolling long pages). I really miss the physical buttons I had on my previous phone, the HTC Desire. :(

        • Luly

          Because there are people like me (probably a lot judging by the trend) who hate physical buttons on a touchscreen device.

        • GergS

          You do realize that if you don't 'tap' the on screen buttons, they won't activate, right?

          So scrolling shouldn't make them fire. It will vibrate and light up but won't fire.

          I don't miss physical buttons at all.

        • Freak4Dell

          No kidding. I don't have a huge problem with accidentally activating touch buttons, but I highly prefer the feel and feedback of a physical button.

        • Dan

          First gen of this stuff was a bit hit and miss. My nexus one originally had a whole heap of issues where I would accidently touch the capacitive buttons. I must admit towards the end either I got better at not doing it or software caught up and filtered for it better but I was a bit jaded that the desire came out shortly after and had physical buttons. Having said that I now have a GN and I think it rocks, they have fixed the issue 100% with the tap to fire mentioned - if you used to have an issue my suggestion would be to give software buttons another try, its a whole different ball game now!

      • Freak4Dell

        When did I say they haven't? I'm sure they have, but they have yet to say anything about a possible solution, and the solutions that come quickly to the mind aren't ideal.

        Besides, it's not like companies always put practicality over the "new" factor. Current technology trends demand that users adapt their habits to the technology because it's the cool way to do it, rather than technology adapting to our existing preferences.

  • crueljames

    That's incredibly exciting. An unbreakable, folding display? Again, I think they need to call it a Flexible Organic Luminescent Display, so it can be condensed down to 'FOLD.'

    Loving my Epic 4G touch, and can't wait to see what Sammy brings to the table for the GSIII on Sprint's upcoming LTE network.

    • Sam Banano Brown

      Love the FOLD name! :)

      • Firehawk

        So do I, so expect it to be patented by Apple tomorrow.

        • Carlo

          Apple has already patented it yesterday and is about to sue you for using it without approval

  • Eggcake

    With HTC's One x you kinda get "no edge" already. At least I don't know if you could go much further than that.

    • Eggcake

      Well okay, there is still some edge, but at least the glass goes "beyond" the edge, which is awesome.

  • gregr

    Learn how,to root, also tw has the smallest footprint of all mfg skins

  • Lol

    I hope it doesn't look like that piece of shit in the photo, lol.

  • koniczynek

    Good, more screen area that I can get a scratch on ;D

  • Mz

    A foldable display would be great on a tablet. Imagine having a 10" tablet that you fold in half so it fits in your pocket.

    • Freak4Dell

      Yup, that's one of the practical uses I see for this. A foldable tablet would finally actually make tablets more portable than netbooks, making them immensely more practical overnight.

      They could also make foldable phones. A gigantic screen on a phone wouldn't be so bad if I could use a smaller screen on the other side for most things, and fold out the bigger screen for tasks that may require that.

  • JonJJon

    No bezel is an unpractical idea in my opinion and I wouldn't want a phone without a bezel, I want to be able to hold my phone securely enough when using it without having to worry about the phone thinking I'm trying to keep touching the screen.

  • dogitout

    Sammy when are you going to incorporate something like the SGS3 with a IR blaster and offer it with your top of the line tv's. do you know how bad ass that would be

    • Carlo

      Use the Samsung Remote app: newest Samsung TVs have internet connection and can be controlled remotely, top of the line can even stream contento overt to your smartphone via DLNA
      I have a medium range samsung TV with internet connection and the app is simply amazing, unfortunately the TV is not equipped with DLNA streaming, so I can't watch TV on my phone :)

  • Jake Weisz

    Is there anyone actually from Samsung or who knows people inside Samsung suggesting this is coming in 2012? Analysts generally are guessing, as opposed to having any information.

  • Adam Lewis

    IMO, losing the bezel is a terrible idea meant only to impress people with the newest, flashiest technology and not better functionality.

    18th post from the top is the only one (that I read) with some sense.

    • GraveUypo

      What functionality are you suggesting a bezel have?

      To me, it's just plain old waste of space. i makes complete sense to want to give use to that useless black space.

      oh wait, you're that iphone lover guy.
      that explains everything. enjoy your 5" phone with a 3,5" screen.

  • Adam Lewis

    Wait, just remembered...this is Samsung and I don't buy their plastic toy junk! Enjoy your ridiculous folding screens that I'm sure will never have problems.

    • Shore

      You know what makes me think of toy junk?

      The iPhone.

  • Potat

    return of the flip phone?

  • http://avgjoegeek.net Jason M

    My only issue is that I have big ham sized hands.. if the bezel goes.. and they actually put "buttons" on the side of the wrap-around display - I'd be hosed.

    But I like the concept! It'll be an interesting design challenge for those with ginormous hands like myself.

    And yes... I wear big gloves.

  • Simon Belmont

    Transparent display, eh. Please, Samsung, make the Tony Stark phone.

    I will literally throw my money at you. I'm serious.

  • falconator

    I'm surprised no one said anything about a DS emulator for this.

    Anyways, personally, I enjoy having a cover on the edge. Drop that sucker once and hello warranty...wait, whats that Verizon rep? We can't insure these devices either???