LG and Samsung want to innovate in the smartphone space. The latest craze: Phones with curved screens.
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LG is expected to debut a smartphone with a curved screen as soon as November. The company's efforts match those of in-country rival Samsung, which is also preparing a phone with a curved screen. Consumer demand for such products, however, is questionable.
LG's device is being called the G Flex, according to sources cited by The Wall Street Journal. It will have a 6-inch AMOLED screen that is concave. The display is being referred to as a plastic OLED screen that uses materials more flexible than those traditionally found in LCDs.
LG is said to be facing the same challenges that Samsung is in manufacturing such a screen: AMOLED technology is susceptible to moisture.
LCD panels require a backlight and cannot be used in a curved shape. They are easily sealed to protect against liquid ingress, though. AMOLED panels don't use a backlight and are thinner and lighter. Creating curved AMOLED panels that keep moisture out effectively is more difficult.
LG is known for its high-quality LCD screens, so working with AMOLED technology is a change for the company. Apple gets its LCD iPad and iPhone screens from LG. LG's own line of smartphones has, to date, used LCD panels. LG is branching out by switching to different display technology.
The LG G Flex will follow Samsung's device, which the company said will arrive this month. Samsung's curved device won't have a flexible screen. Instead, it will be slightly concave with a curved AMOLED display underneath.
The benefit of curved-screen smartphones is unknown at this point. This is not a feature for which consumers are clamoring. There's also the question of cost. The curved television sets offered by LG and Samsung are outrageously expensive -- even after their prices were slashed by 30% earlier this year.
People are more excited about the idea of devices with flexible screens that are unbreakable. Flexible screen technologies will allow smartphone makers to experiment with non-traditional shapes and designs, something the smartphone market sorely needs. Few smartphones deviate from the slab-style rectangles that are in everyone's pockets. There's been little innovation with smartphone hardware, and flexible -- not just curved -- screens could freshen things up a bit.
Samsung is hosting a developer event at the end of October in San Francisco. It is possible it will debut its curved screen during that event, as it has not yet said when the device will make its first appearance. LG's will follow several weeks later.
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