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Is Android Going to Offer Flexible Screens Soon?

Curved screens were so 2014. But a new trend may be on the horizon. Could Android soon be offering smartphones and tablets with flexible screens?

Back in May, Samsung showed off a rather radical design for a potential Android display. At SID Display Week in San Francisco, the South Korean tech giant literally rolled out a flexible smartphone interface, a 5.7 inch display that offered 1920 x 1080 resolution that could bend and twist as effortlessly as fabric. This demonstration shows that Android is certainly interested in the technology, and can make superbly performing interfaces using flexible materials. The question, then, is when to expect this type of technology in your next phone?

While it is fairly likely that you will eventually see an Android OS smartphone touting this kind of technology in the near future, it is currently unknown how much more work Samsung’s designers must put into the project until it is ready to hit the commercial market. For one, the display shown at that San Francisco convention was just that — a display, one which was already 0.3mm thick. Were designers to add the touch layer beneath that, it could affect the flexibility and thickness of the screen.

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An additional design problem? The lack of a place to fit the battery. In conventional smartphones that are used today, such as the one you might be using to read this very article, rechargeable batteries are utilized that require protection from the elements — hence the hardened screen. Additionally, that battery takes up considerable space, and the materials that comprise its design are not nearly as flexible as those used to create the SID Display Week demo screen. All of this is a long-winded way of saying, in all likelihood, you won’t be unrolling a smartphone like you would a paper towel or a newspaper for the foreseeable future.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that advances and improvements to the rollable screen design can’t be made to make that future arrive sooner than anticipated. Samsung has also tested the rollable screen out for a prototype television display earlier in 2016, so it isn’t as though the technology is not of serious interest to the company. The more research and development that goes into making displays like that a reality, the more likely solutions will be discovered that can incorporate a practical, cost-effective battery and touch sensor layer into a flexible, rollable smartphone interface. Until then, however, you’ll have to make due using a smartphone that is merely ultra-thin.