Samsung was the first to launch a ‘flexible screen’ phone, called the ‘Round’, though ironically not really very round but just a bit curved. Not long after and LG launch their ‘first truly flexible’ screen, seemingly ignoring that Samsung had just launched theirs. Of course both use flexible screens in a fixed curve, almost exactly like the curved TVs.
The real question is what do you do with this curvature and do we want it? Certainly our bodies are curved so it makes sense that a shape which conforms more to the shape of your face or leg (if keeping a phone in your pocket) is desirable over the current ‘slabs’. However a fixed curve gives a very much one-size-fits-all approach and doesn’t quite seem to use the promise of the curve.
Equally manufacturers aren’t quite sure with Samsung suggesting it was mainly to tilt up and get notifications on the side, while LG have written a bit of software but are trying to market it as being more natural and ergonomic; one original video even showed an avocado.
However perhaps the bigger problem is that as lovely and flexible as screens are, the rest of the hardware is rather solid. Battery packs, chips and boards are all flat tough things at the moment. Of course demos of flexible screens look great as floppy screens but neatly avoid the issue they’re attached to solid boxes powering them.
The next step of making the floppy/curvy screen works is really re-engineering the phone into a different shape entirely, perhaps more like a liptstip which is much more expensive and crucially an unkown as to whether there is a market. It would also involve needing to make the flexible screen sturdy for use, which is also not an easy task.
For now curvy phones seem a bit like SmartWatches, an interesting idea that is finally turning up in commercial products from large companies but still not quite living up to the revolutionary devices we are hoping for … sounds like a job for Apple?! In fact the latest ‘rumours’ suggest they’re looking into curved screens due to patents, but we wouldn’t bet on it.