What it is: LG Electronics has been showing off flexible, bendable OLED displays that are coming to smartphones and tablets.
Look at the first generation iPad compared to today’s version. The iPad 1 was a thick device while today’s iPad is much thinner and lighter while the iPad Pro is much larger and weighs nearly the same. The trend with smartphones and tablets is towards thinness and lightness because the thinner and lighter a device is, the easier it will be to carry.
That’s why LG Electronics has been promoting bendable displays. Such displays will be nearly as thin and light as a sheet of paper. Just like you can roll up or bend a magazine or newspaper, so you’ll eventually be able to do that with a smartphone or tablet. The trick is how to make flexible displays look as good as current displays while using an equal amount or less power and still bend without affecting the quality of the display.
Undoubtedly flexible displays will arrive in the mobile computing market. The primary advantage will be lightness and thinness, but a secondary advantage will be the ability to collapse the display. Instead of lugging around a phablet, you could fold it in half like an old fashion flip cell phone.
Tablets will benefit even more by letting you roll them up or fold them in half so they take up less space. Today’s smartphones and tablets will look as clunky as beige PC boxes look compared to day’s thin and light laptops.
There’s no doubt Apple and other companies are testing flexible displays to determine the best trade offs without sacrificing visual quality. Most likely the smartphone and tablet market will transition from today’s models to tomorrow’s models with flexible displays. Expect Android manufacturers to adopt bendable displays first as a way to gain an advantage over Apple, but expect Apple to follow up with a superior product that isn’t just a gimmick. Being able to bend a display may be convenient, but there needs to be another advantage as well whether it’s increased display quality or longer battery life. Just having a bendable display offers little more than an interesting technological gimmick.
Bendable displays are inevitable. It’s just a matter of waiting for the quality and price to reach a certain level so they become commonplace in mobile devices everywhere.