Nokia edges-in on the foldable display race, shows off two prototypes
Curved screens? Got ’em. Done deal. With LG’s G Flex and the Samsung Galaxy Round, smartphones have cleared that hurdle. What’s next promises to be a bit more interesting, though, as we look forward to the day when phones will not just be curved, but foldable, with displays that can take a bend and keep right on working. Samsung and LG are both working on improving their flexible OLED offerings in the hopes we’ll get there one day, but at the recent Society for Display Information conference we learned about a new player showing off its own folding screens, as Nokia demoed a couple models.
Working with Semiconductor Energy Laboratory, Nokia created two 5.9-inch 720p panels, each designed to be folded in a specific way. One of them simply folds once in two, while another is capable of two-fold, three-panel, pamphlet-like operation. By optimizing the screens for specific folding patterns like this, Nokia was able to pull off these folds while giving each quite the narrow radius: just 2mm for the single fold, and 4mm for the double fold. They’re also reportedly quite durable, rated for 100,000 folds before failure.
Will either of these screens ever make it to smartphones? Well, this is Nokia-Nokia we’re talking about, and not specifically Devices & Services, so it’s not clear that Microsoft would have any direct claim to these panels for use in future Lumia phones. That said, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Nokia make the tech available to Microsoft by means of a new arrangement, but even that could be a long time away. Remember, there’s a lot more to a phone than just its display, and plenty of other rigid materials that need to be engineered around if we’re ever going to get a foldable smartphone.