Samsung is reportedly in the last phase of development for flexible screens, according to the Wall Street Journal. The new screens will use plastic instead of glass to create devices that are lighter and bendable. Most importantly, they won't crack! (Goodbye, spider-webbed displays.)
Samsung has been working on these displays for a long time now, and it's likely that the company will have new phones with plastic screens as early as the first half of next year. With the competition heating up, the company definitely needs to get it out there as soon as possible. LG has a Liquid Crystal display version that it is trying to get to market, so Samsung is pushing ahead to make sure it's the first company to the finish line.
Samsung is relying on its OLED technology to make flexible screens a reality. Currently, the tech is used in Samsung's top phones, but the company is still using glass surfaces on those devices.
Nobody's saying how much Samsung is investing in the technology, but the company can afford it after a stellar year of sales. The Wall Street Journal reported that Samsung's third quarter profits surged 91% from last year's number to approximately $6 billion. (Even if the company has to give Apple a billion provided the lawsuit doesn't work out, that's still a boatload of cash.)
Several companies are working hard to produce the first flexible screens for a number of reasons.
Lee Seung-chul, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities said that, "The key reason for Samsung to use plastic rather than conventional glass is to produce displays that aren't breakable. The technology could also help lower manufacturing costs and help differentiate its products from other rivals."
As the market only continues to get more competitive, differentiating points go a long way towards higher profits.
The first versions of flexible screen phones are expected to use the technology in ways we are already familiar with (i.e. normal phones, just more resistant to wear and tear). But we could see more creative uses of the screens. Whether it's a small phone that rolls out a screen for a full sized device or a phone that could expand into a tablet, Samsung's devices could really change the landscape -- if they can get the technology to work on a mass-production scale.
We'll be watching.