Samsung has 'unbreakable' OLED phone screen in the works
First truly foldable phone could be around the corner.
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A future Samsung Galaxy phone (although likely not this Galaxy phone) could have a flexible screen that's unbreakable, delivering the first truly foldable handset. The Korean electronics giant said Wednesday that its recently developed phone panel has been certified by Underwriters Laboratories, meaning it's ready to start shipping to consumers in actual devices. Samsung said it expects the new panel to have applications in non-phone markets as well, such as automobiles, mobile military devices and portable game consoles, among others.
Samsung's efforts to make a foldable phone come as demand for phones slows down. It's getting harder for handset makers to differentiate their devices, and consumers don't feel the need to upgrade as often. In the fourth quarter, overall phone unit sales fell for the first time ever, according to Gartner.
The flexible OLED panel is constructed of an unbreakable substrate with an overlay window adhered to it, Samsung said. Flexible displays currently commercially available tend to shatter when subjected to severe impact.
That apparently won't occur with Samsung's new screen.
"The fortified plastic window is especially suitable for portable electronic devices not only because of its unbreakable characteristics, but also because of its lightweight, transmissivity and hardness, which are all very similar to glass," Hojung Kim, a spokesperson for Samsung Display Company, said in a statement.
The display passed rigorous durability tests, Samsung said, including being dropped 26 times in a row from a height of nearly 4 feet and continued to function normally, suffering no damage to its front, sides or edges.
Watch this: Samsung's folding phone may be pricey
All of Samsung's flagship phones now have flexible, curved displays, but the screen could lay the groundwork for foldable phones. ZTE's 2017 Axon M has two screens that fold out into a tablet and are connected by a hinge, but Samsung is widely expected to release a device that will be a truly foldable phone with one flexible OLED display and no hinge.