Samsung has been involved for years in the development of flexible displays and their implementation in consumer electronics products. Earlier this year, the Korean manufacturer proudly introduced its first foldable smartphone. Although the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Fold was postponed, friend and foe cannot deny that this is a very advanced and innovative product. But the company has many more creative ideas for foldable and rollable smart devices.
Last week LetsGoDigital reported on a Samsung smartphone with a roll-up display, this was a candy bar model. Previously, the company also patented a roll-up tablet display with a fingerprint sensor, as well as a roll-up TV with an ingenious standard.
This time we came across a patent for a Samsung smartphone that you can roll out and roll up again. Not in the length, but in the width, so you get a tablet format screen at your disposal.
Roll out Samsung Phone into a Tablet
The patent was applied by Samsung Display, the display division of the Korean manufacturer. On June 11, 2019, the patent entitled “Display Device” was published in the USPTO (the United States Patent and Trademark Office) database.
The patent consists of 27 sketches and extensive documentation of a mobile device with a retractable display. It is a technically defined patent, in which much attention is paid to the rolling mechanism that ensures that you can roll up and unroll the display of this device. This is presumably entirely automatic.
Once pulled out, the user has a screen size that is almost 3x as large as in its most compact form. To get a better idea of the patented product, LetsGoDigital has had a series of professional 3D renders designed based on the sketches and description of this patent.
By means of the rolling mechanism, which works in combination with a moving rail, the flexible screen is ingeniously rolled up in the housing. You can then easily carry the device with you, or of course, use the smaller screen area – similar to a compact smartphone.
The rolled-up smartphone has a widescreen border on both the top and bottom. In addition to the usual components, such as a camera and receiver, this also includes a drive motor for the rolling mechanism. The whole is so nicely concealed that in the first instance you hardly see that this smartphone can be rolled out.
The round-shaped frame border on the left and right-hand sides is extendable, which also incorporates the rolling mechanism. This frame border also serves as a grip when you unroll the phone. In addition, the flexible screen remains more resistant to external influences.
When you pull out the flexible screen, it is also supported by the moving rails. Samsung has provided them with slots so that the left and right sides exactly fit together when the phone is rolled up again.
However, it remains to be seen how sustainable this system is in practice. For example, I can imagine that a lot of dust will get between these slots over time, which can negatively influence the rolling process. These rails must also be prevented from bending because even then they will no longer fall together seamlessly.
Another disadvantage is that there is little space left in the housing for other necessary components, such as for example the battery. Nowadays, the 3.5 mm connection is being dropped for more and more smartphones due to lack of space. To build in such a sliding system, the housing will become a lot thicker, or manufacturers will have to look for smaller, replacement components.
Application of a flexible screen with a smartphone
Two years ago we came across Samsung patents for foldable smartphones where the designs have been rolled up more often. It is therefore quite possible that in the long term we can also expect rollable smartphones from Samsung.
A similar flexible screen, as described for the patented roll-up smartphone, was demonstrated by the Korean manufacturer two years ago. At SID Display Week 2016, Samsung showed a prototype of a rolling screen that could be pulled out to the side, as can be seen in the video below from tech site SlashGear.
The technical specifications were as follows; it had a 5.7-inch screen with a Full HD resolution and 386 PPI. The flexible display was only 0.3 mm thick, weighed 5 grams and had a roll radius of 10R.
The other Korean tech giant, LG, has since also repeatedly made itself heard when it comes to flexible screens that can be rolled up. The most striking example is, of course, the LG rollable TV, which was officially introduced early this year.
In addition, LG has already spoken openly about investigating the possibilities of a rollable phone, in addition to that of a foldable phone. Earlier this year the company already registered several trademarks for this new series of devices, think of LG The Roll.
The rolled-up smartphone, patented by Samsung, does look very sophisticated. It is clearly a premium product that will be made from premium materials. Especially in the work environment, at the office or on the road, there are plenty of applications. It thus appears to be an ideal device for meetings or in consultations with colleagues or customers.
When can we buy a foldable smartphone?
Although it is a very ingenious invention, I do not expect that you can buy a product like this within two years. Technological developments follow each other at a great pace, yet there is still considerable room for improvement in the field of flexible screens.
Moreover, this patent has been applied for by Samsung Display. In other words, for the time being, the focus is on the screen itself. The next phase is that the device itself is also recorded by Samsung Electronics.
With the actual launch of this type of consumer electronics products, it simply does not want to go smoothly. Although it all looks technically sophisticated, sustainability still appears to be an important issue.
A good example of this is, of course, the Galaxy Fold, where the release date was postponed after several reviewers found defects in the flexible screen. The launch of the Huawei Mate X was also recently postponed, until September this year.
The rollable TV from LG would also be launched this spring, it was announced during CES 2019. It is now the end of June, but this product is still not available. The site has been saying ‘coming soon’ for months.
If we look at the price, then we have to conclude that at the moment you simply still have to pay the main price for devices with a flexible screen. The price of folding phones starts at € 2000 for a single device without a subscription.
Given the many years of development time, the high price can be explained. A foldable smartphone also offers considerably more user options and benefits compared to a high-end smartphone of € 1,250.
The device price will probably be slightly lower if you buy a foldable smartphone in combination with a phone subscription. Telecom providers such as KPN, T-Mobile and Vodafone have already indicated their intention to sell the Galaxy Fold as soon as it is launched.
Although the prices of high-end smartphones have increased in recent years, it is expected that in a few years you can also buy cheaper foldable smartphones. Over time, more and more accessories will become available for this new type of smartphone.
On the other hand, you can see that smartphones are less stable in value than a few years ago, this is simply because budget devices are nowadays very well equipped. This also means that for a high-end Samsung smartphone from 3 years ago, you now only get around € 200 on the second-hand market. That is a considerable decrease in value.
The question, therefore, arises whether a folding device will still be worth over time. If the developments follow each other at this pace, then the interest for the first and second generation of foldable smartphones will quickly evaporate.
But perhaps we are now a little too far ahead. First, wait and see when the Galaxy Fold and the Mate X will actually be available. In any case, interest is starting to increase, as I have learned through local retail chains.
Although these consumers probably do not all intend to actually buy such a device, interest is indeed beginning to arise for these newly designed mobile phones.