|LG aims to introduce a smartphone with a flexible OLED screen by year’s end, according to The Verge, which said the news was announced via LG’s financial results call with investors. The news prompted buzz by such sites as Gizmodo, Slash Gear, and Forbes.com, the latter noting that LG and Samsung have teased consumers for years about flexible displays on handsets, yet “released nothing commercially.”
LG vice president of mobile Yoon Bu-hyun said his mobile division is working with LG Display to bring such a phone to the market in the fourth quarter, according to The Verge and The Wall Street Journal. No details on the phone were provided, leaving room for guesswork by onlookers.
“It's unlikely that we'll see a flexible smartphone — the battery and circuitry should prevent that — but we could see a device with a wraparound display, something like Samsung's prototype from CES,” The Verge reported. As Gizmodo said of the Samsung prototype, “That's far from the sci-fi dream of a rollable, foldable phone—but it is, we guess, a step in the right direction.”
Will it happen this year?
It’s unclear if LG really will make it happen this year. The company has missed several release dates of its $10,000 55-inch OLED TV, which now is due out in July (instead of March or in 2012).
“Investors are likely to closely watch whether LG will be able to deliver such a phone given the still low production yield for next-generation displays, analysts said,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
CNET in February pointed out what it really takes to make a flexible phone and while companies have been working on them for years, “for the first time, there's enough real research and development in this area to, perhaps, start getting excited.”
Newly unveiled smartphone
Perhaps more exciting is a separate news development: A newly unveiled smartphone prototype called Morphees can change shape on-demand, sort of like a Transformer toy, to better fit what you want to do. If you want to play a game, the “game app” automatically changes the phone’s shape to be like a console. If you want the phone to serve as a stress ball, the “stress ball app” collapses the device onto itself to make a ball.
If you’re checking your bank balance, Morphees can bend itself to hide the screen as you type a password so passersby can't see, according to Anne Roudaut, who co-led the research at University of Bristol's Department of Computer Science, prompting buzz at Discovery.com, Slash Gear and Wired.com’s UK site. See Morphees in action here.
Her team believes Morphees will be the next generation of mobile devices. For now, it’s a prototype, so it’s simply laying the foundation for possible future phones.