The first foldable smartphones aren’t very far away if the report from The Korea Herald is to be trusted. According to the rumours which have been doing rounds these days, Korean smartphone giant Samsung might be the first one to release a smartphone that would sport a flexible display. These reports further suggest that even Apple won’t be left behind and might come up with a foldable iPhone by 2018. Apple is already planning to come up with a curved OLED display on the next iPhone, so shall we expect foldable iPhone 9 and Samsung Galaxy S9in the coming future?
Foldable smartphones indeed seem to be the future of smartphones. Just think about how much convenient it would be to fold your big smartphone and put it in your jeans’ pockets. However, for making such phones, flexible displays are required. It is quite evident that LCD displays can’t be used for such purposes and only flexible OLED displays can be used for manufacturing such a device.
According to this report, there is currently only one such mass producer of colourless polyimide, the glass which would protect the foldable OLED screen. And it is none other than the Kolon Industries. The company in all probability is already supplying colourless polyimide to smartphone manufacturers like Samsung, LG, and BOE. The company even seems to have received the order for the same from Apple as well.
“Around three to five tech companies are expected to mass produce foldable phones in 2018 globally. The devices will then grab around 20 percent of the total smartphone market here,” Kolon Industries’ colorless polyimide division head Kang Chung-seok said. He further added, “The bend radius of 1 millimeter is the most ideal, but that may cause a safety issue. So, tech companies are likely to unveil the bend radius of 5 millimeters first and then gradually unveil devices with less bend radius.”
Kolon Industries has already finished the research and development work on the flexible colourless polyimide glass and will start mass production very soon. It is being expected that the company would produce films for around 100 million smartphone units by 2018.
It would be interesting to see when the first foldable smartphone arrives and who will be the first to bring. I obviously don’t think it would be Apple as they always go for tried and tested features and rarely risk something completely new. However, considering the fact that Apple has already got patents for a foldable device, a foldable iPhone doesn’t seem to be a distant reality.