If you have a smartphone in your pocket right now, then we’re willing to bet that it has either a flat or slightly-curved display. But fast-forward to now, and tech companies like Samsung and Huawei are beginning to unveil smartphones with ‘foldable’ displays. Yup… you heard that right.
Most smartphone users today are accustomed to a rigid glass display or equivalent, but handsets with foldable displays can’t utilize glass for the touchable interface because it’s not flexible enough for this particular use case. Instead, companies create foldable displays by integrating OLED technology onto a flexible plastic display pane.
When integrated into a handheld device, a foldable display can instantly transform a smartphone into a phablet or tablet, or vice-versa, providing more or less screen space when needed. It remains to be seen what kind of longevity we’ll see from this type of technology, but with plastic displays, users may run the risk of an increased propensity for damage.
Many modern smartphones with OLED displays have some curve to the display already, and this is merely a flexible display that has been pre-bent by the manufacturer and installed underneath a capacitive glass screen. In some cases, the OLED display is bent underneath the glass in a way that the user can’t discern.
Are foldable displays practical, or are they just a gimmicky fad? Supposedly we’ll have a better answer to that question in the next few years.