09
Jan
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We've heard quite a bit about Samsung's prototype flexible OLED display over the past couple of years, and it looks like the company is starting to mature the tech, as it showed off the most practical phone design we've seen yet.

Just to get this out of the way up front – this phone is not flexible. It's just using the flexible display inside of a rigid case, so it's no different than current phones in that respect. When it comes to specs, Samsung wouldn't give up details, only telling The Verge that it's "about 5-inches across" with a resolution of "about" 720p. Awesome.

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From what we can tell, it may be running some super light fork of Android (judging purely on the icons), though it's missing any and all navigation buttons, as well as a status bar, launcher, and the like.  Scratch that – it's essentially a digital picture frame, which cycles through various images showing what the display can do and isn't running any sort of mobile OS. It's also lacking essentially everything else: camera, radios, and most other hardware features. This is very, very much a prototype to display one potential use of this sort of curved display.

As far as practical application, though, it's clear that not even Samsung is sure what to do with this phone's "display lip." For now, it can output stocks, emails, and similar notifications. I have to admit, though – I don't personally see the point. Why do I need notifications scrolling across the side of my phone again? Sounds like a more modern version of the Continuum to me.

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Of course, the idea is neat, and there's no denying that. It'll be interesting to see where Samsung ultimately goes with this – but that probably won't happen any time soon.

[The Verge]

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, and musician. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6- or 7-string, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Tommy Thompson

    From The Verge, "it lacks a radio, operating system, camera, and most any other feature you'd find in a phone. Instead, in its current form, the prototype is more like a touch-capable digital picture frame that uses a low-power processor to cycle through images of a mocked-up UI. "

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Thanks. Not sure how I missed that the first go around. Updated the article.

  • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

    I guess this could be neat as a notification-light-on-steroids kind of thing, but even that's a bit of a stretch. Now, a foldable/creasable display could be cool if it would allow you to fold out an extended display w/o a seam in the middle.

    • mechapathy

      You mean like a Continuum that isn't horrible? That would be awesome, IMO.

    • Freak4Dell

      Yup, that's where I'm hoping this flexible display stuff goes. I think it'd be pretty cool to have a tablet and phone in one...fold it up and it's a reasonably sized phone, but for the people that demand giant screens, they can just fold it out and it's a tablet/phablet/whateveryouwanttocallthatabomination.

  • Patrick

    I think the display lip would be pretty useful actually. You wouldn't have to turn on the entire screen to read stuff, just stare it from afar while working away at the office and you'd be able to read whole fb updates, texts, etc. Pretty cool, I think.

  • mauric

    Just imagine the new possibilities in design with these new flexible screens. I must say i really like the looks of this thing! it looks like it's from 2020.

  • GraveUypo

    why haven't they shown a scroll-phone already? just a little tube out of which you pull out a 7" screen. that's my first thought when i hear flexible screen.

    or make ->this<- already

    • Elias

      Gotta protect the display with glass, i suppose. Capacitive touchscreen, etc

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

    The more impressive demonstration would be showing off the screen taking abuse like they did in the video of hitting the screen with a hammer. The reason people want flexible screens is to keep them from breaking when the phone falls 2 feet onto pavement.

    • Elias

      Not feasible with capacitive touchscreen. Capacitive needs glass afaik

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

        Not true, capacitive digitizers don't have to be on glass, they are just better on glass. If they are on flexible screens, they will wear out and take damage much faster. Since this is just a demo unit that doesn't really do anything anyway, it's not about releasing a real product, just showing a technology they are working on.

  • Guest

    Maybe that curve part there can light up as notification with text scrooling on to it

    • Elias

      GENIUS! They should have thought of this and put up a picture! Oh,wait...

  • akellar

    Why wouldn't this work? The Continuum was a huge success!

  • ray

    I can see someone using this technology along with CMOS cameras to make the surrounding environment appear on all sides of the device like stealth mode. now imagine what you can do with a tank or a fighter jet

  • PINJ

    Thats Weird. Also Cool That They Told That To The VERGE. Coincidental?

  • Zer0

    man... that article should have been about the design....
    screw the screen for now... this is by after the best design ever... yet basic

    • http://twitter.com/domenuk Dominik

      Very good design indeed. Which is weird as it's Samsung... We'll never see this in real live.

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

        That's not fair, I'm sure there's plenty of creative and brilliant people working at Samsung...they are just hidden in the dungeons, toiling away at building great things that the company will patent one day without giving due credit. It's the executives (and marketing department) that keep a lot of the cooler and crazier things from making it into the world.

  • http://twitter.com/GitMuny Ciroc Obama

    Yea I'm struggling to see the point behind side screens. Just prone to me accidentally touching them unless they serve as a passive information area. But even then, your hand is still over them... I guess this is why I don't work at Samsung I can't think outside the box far enough other than a small phone that unfolds to a tablet then maybe even a laptop. That would be sweet. Laptop in your pocket but there is a lot that needs to be invented before that's possible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002370345186 Laddie The-Greyt

    The benefit I see from the side screen is if its in my belt holster and a text or phone call comes in I can quickly look down and see the text or phone number without having to pull it out the holster. Great in a movie theater where where you don't want to distract other movie goers by turning your screen on to look at your phone which so many idiots do.

  • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

    First of all, I also don't see how to make good use of the screen tech. May be the most boring usage of it is to wrap it BEHIND the front side of the phone -- now we can talk about true edge-to-edge display.

    Anyway, what I really want to say is, this news pretty much confirm that the rumor of the S4 having a flexible screen is false -- I highly doubt that Samsung would employ such experimental technology in its flagship. It's not bleeding edge, but "DYING EDGE".

    • RajivSK

      It's clearly all the way around the edge

  • http://www.facebook.com/tarek.elghazaly Tarek El-Ghazaly

    How disappointing. I was almost certain we'd see a foldable tablet during CES 2013... Oh well.

  • pristine

    rather than side-lip, I prefer it to stretch to either to top or bottom lip.
    because we'll often hold phone by the side,

    placing the lip on top and bottom will have less accidental tap.
    they can also extend the lip to backside a bit, as long as it doesn't block the grip.

  • Ryan O’Neill

    There you go. Bezel-less phone.

  • Rinkesh621

    This is really innovative in the screen technology and this takes us one step closer to a truly flexible phones for the future. I have been reading lots of negative comments (Here and Verge) about how this is useless since it's not flexible, or the phone will still shatter, etc.

    Being optimistic, the pessimistic readers forget, this is how research and prototypes lead to better technology. I would have loved you guys back in 1988 when first cellphones were going around the markey. "OH who would carry this brick around in their briefcase?" Lo and behold, 6.7mm thin phones today right? See give it time my friends, give it time.

    ;)

  • http://ecellmobile.blogspot.com/ e_cell mobile

    In the end, the first smartphone by Samsung that sported a bendable display is concave, not convex. Given these developments, I'm looking forward to a smartphone which will be purely flexible.