Smartphones today come in all sizes, but they don’t come in all shapes. Despite different materials being used around the back of a smartphone they’re all pretty much a piece of glass covering a 16:9 high-resolution display. Aside from that, every smartphone on the planet could look the same from a distance, and indeed that’s often the case. Samsung and LG have tried their hand at offering something different by using flexible OLED displays. With the G Flex 2, LG succeeded in making a curved device that had a whole lot going for it, but Samsung succeeded in creating a mainstream success with the Galaxy S6 Edge. Now, it appears as though Samsung could be taking flexible displays to a whole new level, at least if we believe the latest from HSBC’s analysts.
As Business Insider is reporting, HSBC’s analysts have come up with an interesting diagnosis for the year ahead, stating that “Samsung will likely introduce foldable OLED smartphones as early as 2H16, versus market expectations of 2017, as the company tries harder to regain market share.” The idea of a foldable smartphone is certainly a pretty cool one, an HSBC go on to say such a product would offer “a high degree of product differentiation” and give “users the best of both world’s – namely, a larger screen size in a smaller form factor”. All of this sounds great, but the likelihood of Samsung getting this technology into a foldable smartphone before the end of 2016 is frankly a little far-fetched. Creating a device with two separate displays is totally possible, and Sony tried this a few years ago with the Sony Tablet P and Kyocera failed more recently with a dual-display smartphone on Sprint.
LG is exhibiting a rollable OLED display at this year’s CES, and while it’s a great proof of concept for the future, it’s not an end product. That’s what HSBC and other analysts need to keep in mind, that just because one part of a product – in this case the display – is technically available, it doesn’t mean an end product can be plucked out of thin air. One thing’s for sure though, now that Apple happily offers larger smartphones, big Android names like Samsung have to try a little bit harder these days. HTC’s excellent stereo speakers, dubbed BoomSound, clearly aren’t helping their bottom line and the G Flex 2 wasn’t a mainstream success. Samsung has the potential to create something pretty great to take the market by surprise, but a foldable smartphone before the end of 2016 seems a little like wishful thinking.