07
Oct
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If you've always wanted a phone with a big, curved screen, LG wants to grant your wish. To that end the company is now mass-producing flexible OLED screen panels, presumably for an upcoming device or class of devices. The screen itself (not the phone or tablet that it's going into) will be 6 inches diagonally, .44mm thin, and just 7.2 grams.

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LG didn't include a photo with their PR, so here's the same Samsung demo that's been floating around for years.

To achieve this feat of bendy engineering, LG swapped out a glass panel for flexible plastic, which allows for a concave radius of 700mm (a pretty extreme curve, even compared to the curved glass panels on the Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus) and an "unbreakable" build. How this will affect device design isn't clear: you'll still need to use conventional PCB boards, batteries, cameras, et cetera. Eventually LG will probably provide flexible panels for other manufacturers, as they do now with LCD screens.

Rumors have been flying about new phones from both LG and Samsung that will integrate flexible screens of some kind. Since the two companies have been display rivals for decades and the rivalry has only spilled over into smartphones, it would surprise no one if this came to pass. I'm more interested in what kind of advantage a flexible display might offer end-users - surely just adding a curvy display to a candy-bar form factor can't be worth all the fuss, right? We should find out sometime in the next few months.

Seoul, Korea (Oct. 7, 2013) – LG Display [NYSE: LPL, KRX: 034220], the world’s leading innovator of display technologies, today announced that it will start mass-production of the world’s first flexible OLED panel for smartphones. This state-of-the-art panel represents another milestone following the company’s commercial rollout of the world’s first 55-inch OLED TV display earlier this year.

“LG Display is launching a new era of flexible displays for smartphones with its industry-leading technology,” said Dr. Sang Deog Yeo, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of LG Display. “The flexible display market is expected to grow quickly as this technology is expected to expand further into diverse applications including automotive displays, tablets and wearable devices. Our goal is to take an early lead in the flexible display market by introducing new products with enhanced performance and differentiated designs next year.”

LG Display’s flexible OLED panel is built on plastic substrates instead of glass. By applying film-type encapsulation technology and attaching the protection film to the back of the panel, LG Display made the panel bendable and unbreakable. The new display is vertically concave from top to bottom with a radius of 700mm, opening up a world of design innovations in the smartphone market. And only 0.44mm thin, LG Display’s flexible OLED panel is the world’s slimmest among existing mobile device panels. What’s more, it is also the world’s lightest, weighing a mere 7.2g even with a 6-inch screen, the largest among current smartphone OLED displays.

In March 2012 LG Display developed the world’s first 6-inch Electronic Paper Display (EPD) based on e-ink which utilizes a plastic backplane. Having previously showcased the world’s first curved 55-inch OLED TV panel at CES 2013, today’s announcement highlights the company’s leading position in advanced flexible display technologies.

According to research firm IHS Display Bank, the global flexible display industry will see dramatic growth and become a USD 1.5 billion market by 2016, exceeding USD 10 billion by 2019. LG Display plans to advance flexible display technologies and bring innovation to consumers’ daily lives with the introduction of rollable and foldable displays in various sizes.

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • dj_deez

    "LG didn't include a photo with their PR, so here's the same Samsung demo, Because f*ck you LG! That's why!"

    • Frederico Silva

      If they included a photo, it would've been a Samsung anyway, because you know, LG copies Samsung and all that..

      • Danny Davis

        Which is rather ironic to mention considering how Samsung follows every shit trail Apple drops off.

        • Frederico Silva

          No dude, just...no

          • Danny Davis

            I'll let you tell it

          • Frederico Silva

            There was a '/s' implied in my comment about Samsung.. Since it was implied I thought it wasn't necessary to write it..

    • Jeremiah Rice

      Pretty much.

  • obarthelemy

    Any info on the other characteristics, like color fidelity, brightness, reflectivity ?

  • Stiggy

    Really though we've been hearing about these for years and I have yet to read a good reason for them. The only purpose I can imagine is to fold out your phone into a tablet but this is flexible, not foldable.

    • Danny Davis

      I think the potential is better for thing outside of just phones. TVs , wearable items like watches. It also makes them more durable to damage.

      • atlouiedog

        Yep. Circular ad surfaces or interactive maps on street corners and in malls, flashy displays on media buildings, novelty mugs, dumb car mods, and unusable work surfaces in the Fox News studio.

  • RH

    Making a phone like the sample above obviously is just silly, but where I do see the flexible screen being handy, would be a device, that when closed, sports a 4-5" screen, but when opened, sports a 8-10" screen. Would pretty much replace a phone, laptop, tablet with one device. Also, it may help with the dropped/shattered screen issue of today.

    • Danny Davis

      I think this is what most people are not seeing. It's not just the screen can bend, but it could have alot more use as for durability and foldable screen. Curve screen to help with sun glare, TV with better cuve depth, etc.

    • h4rr4r

      So what do you make the screen cover out of?
      If you use glass, the obvious choice, you will get a nice line at the hinge.
      If you don't use glass welcome to scratch city.

  • Matthew Fry

    Flexible PCB exists.

  • matt

    i dont see this tech being useful until you can actually bend it in your hands. if anybody else sees a use for it by all means point it out

    • Goldenpins

      I don't as well. The only thing I can think of is bending the screen slightly in to have the screen face you. Except they already have phones that have a curve doing the same (Galaxy Nexus) even that phone is only slightly curved.

    • impulse101

      How about it being 1/10 the weight? Is that good? How about it being 1/8 as thick?

  • power_pizza

    Will flexible screens mean I can drop my phone from pocket height without it cracking?

    • flosserelli

      The display matrix (containing the pixels) won't break, but the glass covering it probably will.

  • BozzyB

    Time for Apple to place an order.... can't innovate my ass :)

  • Leo Finn

    What I find funny is all they nay sayers here, being all like I don't see a use for having a flexible screen. Sure there may be no direct reason right this moment for having a flexible screen but when the technology is available through possibilities will be available. I never thought Android fans would start turning into the closed mind assholes like apple fan boys.

    • Keith Thompson

      Well said.

    • Dylan K

      They may be nice for diy repair though because it is harder to crack a flexible lcd

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    • darkNiGHTS

      And if I'm not mistaken, won't this make phones more durable? Basically the LCD will be much harder to crack, only the front glass will which is a much cheaper repair.

  • Kenneth Lam

    Why are we all stuck on phone uses? How about helmet/visor mounted display for that personal big screen or augmented reality.

    • Danny Davis

      Because people are fixated only on phones when there's a large amount of other possiblities for this. Agreed on your comment.

  • hellerox

    Wow predator wristbands and maybe even motorcycle/bicycle helmets with integrated screens aren't too far away from the reality

    • Danny Davis

      This will also be great for gaming.

  • perfectlyreasonabletoo

    Need one of these in Oculus Rift!

  • spydie

    Has anyone actually figured out what good a curved or radically bent screen is? Very hard to carry in you pocket, won't fit any case, not easy to read... what's the point?

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