We've been hearing about Samsung's smartphone with a foldable screen for what seems like an eternity, but it looks like we'll have to wait a little longer to finally see the thing. Flexible screens have been demoed at trade shows for years, but getting them into a production-ready phone is another matter entirely. Samsung had seemed the most likely to make this dream a reality, but it must be as hard to do as it sounds as the project keeps getting put back.
Foldable smartphones with bendy screens have seemingly been on the horizon for some time. It's seen by some as the next great innovation in the industry, essentially giving you a tablet sized screen in a device with the footprint of a phone. While we've seen numerous concepts and heard many proclamations, nothing concrete has surfaced just yet. But that doesn't stop companies like Samsung from talking about it. In the latest comments to come from the Korean firm, Koh Dong-jin, president of mobile business, says the first flexible device could be ready in 2018.
Update: Portal has been removed from IndieGoGo after a patent troll issued a DMCA takedown notice. Organizer and creator Arubixs is fighting back. This should be entertaining.
Over the past year or so, we've seen project after project overpromise and under-deliver on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. There's a deep and cruel streak of cynicism running through the world of hardware crowdfunding, but you can't say that it's undeserved: look at the travesty that is the Kreyos smartwatch, the disappointment of the iMpulse controller and the Pressy, and almost laughable vaporware like the Smarty Ring, now six months overdue without even a working prototype to show for it.
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.
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.
Flexible displays are a great idea. Without flexible glass to go with it, though, some applications still remain difficult. Thankfully, Corning, the company behind Gorilla Glass (otherwise known as "the only type of glass you know by name"), has introduced a new flexible glass called Willow Glass. This new material is slim and strong, though we'd expect nothing less from Corning. The product will also allow manufacturers to pursue roll-to-roll processing which, if you're familiar with materials processing and manufacturing, you know is a very big deal. If you're not, here's the short version: it makes things cheaper.
The company doesn't go to great length to explain just how flexible this glass is.
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.
Truly stylish clock/date widgets of high quality are hard to come by, so whenever we see one released, we jump on it right away. Today's highlight is Typography Wall that was just released into the Android Market.
Typography Wall is actually a live wallpaper that comes with a variety of configurable elements, by default set up exactly the way you see below. You can use it without any modifications or jump right into changing things, from using your own background to changing transparency, rotation, blinking, positioning, and other aspects of each element. Such powerful customizations are made possible thanks to an absolutely brilliant OwnSkin framework that this LWP uses - in fact, it looks like anyone can create a live wallpaper using this free framework.
I have a soft spot for well done demoes, even if they exist only in concept form, and today's design by Kristian Ulrich Larsen fits right into this category (did you really expect anything else from a designer with such an awesome name?).
If you liked Mozilla's Seabird concept, you're going to love the Flip Phone, which features 3 flexible, curved AMOLED screens connected by "soft steel mesh hinges," which allow this device to morph into multiple configurations, each offering something different to its user. It has a keyboard (and a pretty sexy one at that) and a camera. Who needs a dedicated kickstand when it can stand on its own?
In a Galaxy Tab far, far away ... there is a 7" AMOLED panel. While other manufacturers are fretting over OLED panel shortages, no such difficulties seem to be presenting themselves to Samsung, as the screen display technology was out in full force at their FPD2010 booth today.
First up is the previously alluded to 7" panel, which appears to be a direct upgrade from the TFT panel used in the current Galaxy Tab. With the same 1024 x 600 resolution, applications should run fine on any potential new model, saving Samsung from any porting legwork with their bespoke apps. The screen also boasts more than 100% of the NTSC colour gamut, 16.7 million colours, and a brightness of 250 cd/m2.