Who will be ahead with the curve? With South Korea-based LG Display claiming a first as it starts mass-producing flexible display screens for smartphones, Samsung already had announced its planned release of a curved phone in South Korea later this month.
Sang Deog Yeo, executive vice president and chief technology officer of LG Display, said Monday the announcement of the world's "first" flexible OLED (organic light-emitting diode) panel ushers in a "new era" of flexible displays for smartphones.
Whether or not Samsung beats LG Display with a product debut in the 2013-2014 calendar, one thing is for sure, and that is LG Display is laying claim to a series of firsts in its flexible display rendition.
LG said its OLED panel is the slimmest among existing mobile device panels and is the world's lightest, weighing 7.2 grams -- about a quarter of an ounce -- even with a larger 6-inch screen. The display curves from top to bottom. The panel is built on plastic substrates instead of glass.
Guessing on Dates
LG Display's Monday announcement said nothing specific about dates and the omission has left industry watchers tapping into the rumor mill and reading between the press-release lines. The general prediction outside LG is no later than November if LG Display intends to be in the OLED front lines as a contender.
Samsung is expected to unveil a smartphone with "curved display" in South Korea this month but it is not yet certain if the screen will be similar to the prototype flexible AMOLED screen that Samsung showed at CES in 2011. "Curved displays" can accommodate the much awaited bendable designs for smartphones, but the "bendy" revolution where one can roll up a tablet and stick it in a coat pocket is still wait-and-see.
One news source that is not skittish about bets on dates is Reuters. Reporting from Seoul on Monday, Reuters said LG's curved handset display will debut in a November smartphone launch.
What About G-Flex?
Other reports concur that the top to bottom curved display screen could show up in a curved smartphone called the G-Flex smartphone from LG as soon as next month.
According to research firm IHS Display Bank, the global flexible display industry will see dramatic growth and become a $1.5 billion market by 2016, exceeding $10 billion by 2019.
With technology advancing, the OLED display market is gearing up to a next stage, promising design innovations. The applications that can leverage the new type of displays are numerous, from automotive displays to tablets to computer wearables.
LG Display has made a name in the industry for advanced flexible display technologies. Earlier this year, LG Display showcased a curved-screen, 55-inch OLED TV panel at CES 2013.