Bend it like Samsung: smartphone giant to make flexible gizmos

We’ve all seen those adverts for titanium spectacles that you can twist and bend without them breaking. Well, what if your mobile phone could do that.

It would save a whole lot of hassle, returns and insurance claims when you accidentally shatter your smartphone after dropping it on the ground while taking it out of your pocket, or when your toddler finds it and flings it onto the floor.

Well, a seemingly unbreakable phone could be coming onto the market as early as next year.

Samsung’s Galaxy range is already incredibly popular – with the Galaxy S3 recently overtaking the iPhone 4S as the world’s best-selling smartphone.

And a new, extra robust, addition to the range, first mooted back in 2011, is due to join the Galaxy family.

The Galaxy Skin is being trialled with “a few customers,” according to the Wall Street Journal, which says Samsung is “in the last phase of development” for the new smartphones, which are expected to be released in the first half of 2013.

It’s been more than a year since we got our first glimpse of the prototype Galaxy Skin, which was revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show.

With the smartphone market becoming increasingly competitive, as electronics giants battle it out in court rooms across the world, using flexible displays could give Samsung a real advantage as they would be able to offer consumers a truly unique product.

Samsung has managed to make displays that can bend and roll, and survive knocks and bumps, by using a plastic polymer rather than glass for its screens.

They’ve been able to use Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), which are usually used in televisions, to make the technology work. They provide brighter, clearer displays on electronic devices, use less power than traditional displays and can withstand being placed on ductile materials like plastic.

Shinyoung Securities analyst Lee Seung-chul said: “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.”

Analysts and tech sites are predicting that the much-anticipated Galaxy S4 will have the new bendy display. The S4 is also expected to have a thinner memory chip, making it the slimmest Galaxy so far.

The electronics giant is said to have been able to invest heavily in the research and development necessary to be able to go into mass production with the flexible screens after seeing a 91 per cent increase in net profits resulting in earnings totalling $6bn.

But however much it ploughs into research and development, its new concept is clearly not without competition.

Apple has already filed designs with the US Patent Office for a tablet smart cover which has a screen which has an AMOLED screen within its flexible surface.

And LG is said to also be developing OLED screens with plastic substrates, which sources have said will be “thinner, more durable and less prone to impact”.

The race is on – only time will tell whether LG or Samsung will make it to market first.

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