An LG patent for a flexible and folding OLED smartphone has emerged, showcasing a smartphone design which opens along the middle into a larger tablet form factor. The patent suggests that LG could already be hard at work on such a device in a bid to beat Samsung’s long-anticipated Galaxy X to market.
The caveat with such patents is, as always, that a lot of device designs are patented in this way and never go past the concept stage. Having said that, it’s pretty clear with a lot of moves and murmurs inside the industry that this is the way things will go sooner or later, so for LG to get in on the game early would make sense.
The South Korean manufacturer filed the patent with the World Intellectual Property Organization in July 2017, but it has only now been published and picked up online. The patent describes a “mobile phone with a flexible display which can be folded in half”, as you can see from the illustrations, that folding mechanism when unfolded turns the display into a tablet sized device – it is a single continuous display that wraps around the outer edge from one fascia to the other and forms up flat when the phone is popped open.
For a long time, many have believed Samsung would be first to market with a folding and flexible OLED phone dubbed the Samsung Galaxy X. That’s because Samsung has been working on flexible OLED technology for a very long time – it showcased prototypes and declared its ambition publicly around five years ago (but was probably making moves behind the scenes for a while prior to that), and has been promising something for the commercial market ever since. For the last couple of years we’ve seen a continuous rumour cycle claiming that the Galaxy X would arrive “next year” from whatever the current year was, and yet nothing materialises. Current rumours are saying 2019.
Samsung is certainly the world leader when it comes to flexible OLED, as it has the most money and R&D invested in the technology, and has the biggest manufacturing capabilities for these displays. LG has reportedly invested into its own flexible OLED enterprise, however.
We’ve no idea how far along LG’s device might be in a development process, if it’s advanced out of the protoype/concept stage at all. Assuming it was given the green light by LG, however, as the patent has only been filed in the middle of last year we’d expect it will be a while before anything breaks cover. You’re probably looking at no earlier than the end of 2018, and quite likely inside 2019 just like the Samsung Galaxy X (allegedly). Naturally, we’ll bring you more as we hear it.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.