The commercialization of foldable smartphones is being accelerated. The size of a foldable display is cut in half when it is folded once and in a third when it is folded twice. If foldable displays are used for smartphones, they will make big-screen smartphones easier to carry. Thus, foldable displays are expected to create demand of for foldable smartphones.
Therefore, patent applications related to foldable displays have been on a sharp rise lately. According to the patent office on August 19, patent applications for foldable displays increased 3.2-fold to 210 for three years (2012 to 2014) until last year. As smartphones reached their limits in hardware development, foldable smartphones would become a new breakthrough as a differentiation point, smartphone experts said. Therefore, smartphone companies focused on the development of foldable smartphones, resulting in the sharp increase in patent applications for foldable displays.
The sharp increase in patent applications was led by Korean display and smartphone makers. LG Display came in first with 94 applications (34.1%) followed by Samsung Display with 80 (29.0%), Samsung Electronics with 23 (8.3%) and LG Electronics with 17 (6.2%). By technology types, hinges and housings stood first with 86 applications (31.2%). Then folding improvements placed second with 50 (18.1%), followed by touching and folding state sensors with 48 (17.4%) and cover windows with 22 (8.0%).
Some companies such as Lenovo unveiled their foldable smartphone prototypes but did not reach the stage of mass production of them due to a durability problem of the display part among others. However, as the news has been going around that Samsung Electronics will unveil the Galaxy X, a foldable smartphone, early next year, many companies are competing to launch foldable smartphones ahead of others.