Foldable Watershed: Foldable Displays Will Be Watershed Moment in Smartphone History | BusinessKorea

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A concept render of Samsung Electronics’ foldable smartphone. (Photo via GforGames)
A concept render of Samsung Electronics’ foldable smartphone. (Photo via GforGames)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA
15 October 2015 - 4:00pm
Michael Herh

The race is getting hotter among smartphone companies to develop foldable phones, as the world smartphone market seems to reach its technological limits. In terms of foldable OLED display technology, which produces OLED displays by depositing OLED materials on displays, Samsung Display and LG Display have the best technology in the world. Depositing means a process where a light-emitting material is heated and stuck to a panel.

Samsung Display has strong competitiveness in small-sized screens by commercializing OLEDs via the Galaxy series. LG Display is the technological leader in the production of big-sized screens such as TVs and signage, since it has excellent masking technology which can deposit OLEDs on big display panels.

This technological background is enabling Samsung Electronics to take the lead in smartphones and LG Electronics to lead the OLED TV industry. Based on this technological prowess, the two electronic giants have developed and commercialized flexible displays. Since 2014, the companies are spurring on the development of displays that can be completely folded like paper. Of late, Samsung Display developed and patented a foldable two-part display for an 11 inch tablet PC. It is known that based on this technology, Samsung Electronics began to develop the foldable smartphone Valley.

The biggest barrier against the commercialization of foldable smartphones is the development of technology that can maintain the shapes and functions of panels after they are repeatedly folded and unfolded. According to industrial sources, Samsung Electronics produced a prototype of a foldable smartphone with a foldable panel. Some technological improvements will lead to the commercialization of the product.

LG Display also has technology as good as that of Samsung Display. LG Display succeeded in the production of a foldable display early this year. The company is now brooding over commercialization types. The LG Group is reviewing various possibilities as well, such as producing its own foldable smartphones with its foldable display technology, and supplying display panels to Apple and Google, its traditional partners. The absence of foldable panel technology and facilities makes it almost inevitable for Apple to partner with Korean display makers and take the leadership in the display industry.

Therefore, Apple may need to buy cutting-edge foldable display panels from Samsung or LG. But nobody knows whether or not the Korean companies will sell them to Apple. Apple is reportedly preparing to launch the 8th-generation iPhone as a foldable phone expected to hit the market in 2018.

Thus, it is said that Apple will sit at negotiation tables with Samsung and LG. The advantages of foldable smartphones are convenience in carrying big screen telecommunication and computing devices. But one thing is certain – the commercialization of foldable devices is expected to bring a tremendous change to the computer industry, including desktops, laptops, and smartphones.

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