Can you imagine a phone getting clinched around your wrist like a bracelet? I think nobody can. But, a video of a woman wearing her phone like a bracelet blew away the internet last year. Although it was a rumor, yet it made everybody think of having a flexible handset. Nobody had ever thought that the rumor will become a reality one day. Yes, you read it right. The smartphone market is heading towards launching foldable handsets soon. You won’t be surprised to know that Samsung is already a leader in the race.
The concept of fold-in phones is not new to us. But, a phone getting folded outwards to transform into a tablet is something everyone needs to be excited about. Fold-out phones can be the new big thing taking over the smartphone market.
What can we expect from bendable phones?
Completely functional smartphones having flexible display allowing users to fold them and tuck in their pockets or open them up to become a huge tablet screen – is one of the expectations. This means that users will experience a bigger and clearer view without increasing the size of the handset.
The phones are expected to have a hinge that will let the screen to be folded outwards. The OLED display is the biggest differentiator that can allow foldable phones to have a strong impact on swathes of the smartphone market.
How are they expected to hit the market?
The smartphone market has become sluggish due to lack of innovation, but, do you think foldable phones will serve the purpose. These phones can bring a revolution in the smartphone market as they are going to hit smartphone and tablet market both at the same time. People may like to have a phone that can give them an experience of a tablet.
The names of well-known tech giants including Samsung, Microsoft, LG, and Nokia were on everyone’s lips as they all applied for patents for the design of foldable phones. Samsung, after declaring the launch of its first bendable handset in the third quarter of this year, has taken the lead in the race. Let’s have a look at the foldable phone patents filed by smartphone companies -
Samsung, the South Korean tech giant, is said to release its first bendable handset, reportedly called Galaxy X, by the third quarter of 2017. With the two previously released phones Galaxy Round having slightly bend edges and Galaxy Note Edge with one flexible side, Samsung, clearly indicated that it is well on time.
Samsung is trying to capture two markets with a single 2 in one product. Galaxy X roll-out design is rumored to have the 5-inch smartphone but fold out into a 7-inch screen tablet. Samsung is trying to improve its reputation after the failure of Note7 with these anticipated designs.
Samsung’s patent pending application US2016246330 titled “foldable display”, discloses a display which can be reconstructed based upon inputs from touch sensors sensing a relative distance between folding members. As a result, we have adaptive touch sensitive region which can turn a smartphone into tablet and reverse is also true.
Another application US2016246559 titled “Foldable display” includes a plurality of displays. This unique arrangement of multiple displays with designated areas for displaying notification of events, locking and unlocking and other information is the center idea of this application.
We have one other application from Samsung US20170006725 titled “Foldable display apparatus” where we can see a hinge connecting the first case and the second case of a flexible display device and a locking unit that is configured to prevent rotation of the two cases when the apparatus is in the unfolded configuration.
LG seems to be an active participant in flexible phone quest and is giving close competition to Samsung. It unveiled the LG flex on October 27, 2013, and after two years company released LG G Flex 2. One thing common in both the phones is the curved body and flexible display. With these models, LG has come out with slightly bendable batteries in mobiles to match with their curved designs, first of its kind. At an event, LG displayed conceptual “Wire batteries” fit for deployment in wearable.
It is said that the company will let other companies use the flexible phone technology instead of using it for its own products.
The patent application US9170678 titled “Foldable display device providing an adaptive touch sensitive area and a method for controlling the same” discloses deactivating selective area of the flexible display in response to determining the folded/unfolded state. The selective area may be gripped by the user in the unfolded state. The said area may be gripped by the user in the folded state.
Another application from LG US9013368 titled “Foldable mobile device and method for controlling the same” depicting 2 in 1 package. The foldable display device is folded to be portable and is unfolded to display images. It controls the image layer by determining the mode of display and POI information.
The other application from LG US2016357052 titled “Foldable display device” talks about foldable display device comprising a display panel; and a backplate on a surface of the display panel, the distance between adjacent opening patterns formed in the folding region, FR, of the backplate is controlled such that the stress on the display device in the curvature-starting point can be decreased or relaxed as result damages on the display panel can be reduced or prevented.
Other players in mobile phones like Nokia, Microsoft, Lenovo are also working on similar flexible displays.
Although coming up with fold-out phones was not an easy task as it seems because they have to have flexible internals such as camera module, chipset, battery, etc.; yet, such phones are on their way. There was a time when bar-code phones were market dominants, then came touch-screens. Now the market is about to introduce bendable phones. Do you think these foldable phones can be the new normals? Let’s see how these phones come up and hit the market