Curved, rollable, sliding and foldable displays — we thought we had seen it all, until this month’s Display Week conference, an annual event where companies strut their best (and most weird) displays. Single-fold displays seem to have made way for two-fold displays, plus there are screens that roll out to expand outwards and then there are 360-degree displays.
These are screens that probably no one asked for, but the innovations are all there, ready for manufacturers to pick from. Let’s get into the designs that caught our eye.
LG’s 360-degree OLED display
LG Display showed off a 8-inch OLED touchscreen (embedded above) that could be folded. Not just that, it can be folded inwards and outwards so it serves as an inner screen and an outer screen, as needed. When folded out it is one large screen.
LG uses ‘a special folding structure’ that minimizes the crease. So far, all the folding OLED screens we have seen have additional layers added, or have a mechanical hinge to increase durability in one specific direction, but with this panel folding inwards and outwards LG has shown us that a single, foldable OLED touchscreen is possible as well. This will allow devices that use this panel to transition from a phone to a tablet easily.
LG claims its foldable OLED display is durable enough to survive being folded 200,000 times. The company also claims its durable enough that even when the screen is folded all the way around (so you’re effectively holding a phone-sized device with an OLED touchscreen on both sides), it can be popped in a bag without the worry of the screen getting spoiled.
The resolution of the screen is 2,480 x 2,200 pixels, which is similar to the inner display of Huawei’s Mate X2. The display reminds us of TCL’s 360-degree Ultra Flex concept foldable that came out earlier this year.
LG’s 17-inch foldable OLED laptop
LG’s OLED phone/tablet concept was not the only thing on display.
There was an even bigger foldable OLED panel on display from LG, a massive 17-inch OLED laptop where the clamshell design opens out to be one big folding screen.
Samsung Flex G and Flex S
First showcased at CES 2022, Samsung’s Flex G and S displays are multi-fold panels for phones. The Flex G folds not once but twice, almost like a brochure. Samsung says the tri-fold design ensures more durability. The Flex S display, on the other hand, also folds twice but outwards, like a map, “creating a double curve, resembling the letter ‘S'”. Samsung says in this case, the three displays can be used independently or together — and it’s “almost like having multiple desktops”.
Samsung also displayed sliding handsets with displays that rolled out horizontally or vertically. Rollable concepts have not made it to commercial phones just yet, despite the fact that we’ve been seeing rollable screen concept designs for the past few years from companies like TCL, Oppo and the like.
Samsung foldable OLED gaming display
Samsung Display showcased a foldable screen which allows controllers to be attached at both ends, so gamers can access a larger screen when needed that folds up for easy transport. The device can also be held vertically so the screen is on top and the controller is below for a better gaming experience.
For gamers, Samsung also showed off the first 240Hz OLED laptop display, which will debut later this year in high-end gaming laptops like the new Razer Blade 15.
LG’s 360-degree OLED takes the cake, but we can’t talk about foldable displays and not mention Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 — a phone that folds out into a tablet. Its OLED screen folds inward so it is more protected. There was also Flexpai from Royole where the OLED screen folds outward as well.
Fold in, out or roll up or sideways — digital displays are increasingly limited only by your imagination, but we still have to wait and see how well these designs make the transition from concept to final product.
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