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Curved screens versus flat

By Adam Doud July 5, 2015, 1:00 pm

OEMs are trying to find their place in this landscape. Some are more successful at this than others. But the one thing that many of these OEMs have in common is the fact that they’re all looking for that one magic bullet. That one thing that really sets them apart from others. Sometimes it’s building materials. Sometimes it’s software. Today, we’re talking about one such magic bullet – the curved screen phenomenon that we’ve seen of late.

Curved screens have been somewhat elusive until recently for two real reasons. First, finding a durable material that could work being bent in the way that the LG G Flex line of phones and more absurdly the Galaxy Round. Then they had to find other components that would work in the same fashion, sometimes while being bent, as in the case of the LG G Flex.


Hey…what is that?

These are interesting concepts to be sure. Conversation pieces that can allow you to carry something different in your hand and separate yourself from the crowd just as the OEM is trying to separate itself. This can be a fun thing to do, and allow you to be a little proud of yourself for being a radical.

Plus, in some cases, curved screens just make a lot of sense and can bring some benefits. The Galaxy Note Edge, brought a lot of utility to the phone. It made one-handed operation easier, it cleared up the screen in some apps, moving UI elements to the side, and it offered a series of its own apps to give you notifications, news, etc. The curve on the LG G Flex also aids in one-handed navigation because the curve of the screen allows you to reach the top in a shorter distance. Plus the contour of the holding the phone to your face felt very nice (or so I’m told).

Niches and edge cases need love too

Even the Galaxy Round had something to offer. The phone, when sitting on a table could display notifications and other info when one side of the phone was pushed down. It’s not a completely crazy concept, but it’s certainly more of a niche case. But the curved screen could lead to new innovations in smartphone technology, or at least new uses, such as the Galaxy S6 Edge for example.

lg g flex 2 vs g flex

And Yet…

Who is a curved screen really helping? Putting aside aesthetics, which are terribly subjective anyway, a curved screen really isn’t all that useful to a smartphone, or at least not so useful as to justify additional costs in design, manufacturing, and R&D for flexible of bent components. The Galaxy S6 edge costs almost 20% more than the Galaxy S6. The LG G Flex 2 is over 12% more that the LG G4, which is newer and by most estimates, better.

Hey, it’s your money, and I’m not going to judge. But the honest truth is, these things are expensive to make, and expensive to own. This will vary from region to region, of course, but it’s a legitimate concern. Especially considering the minimal functionality that these curved screens bring.

After all, what’s attractive to one, may not be attractive to another. There is some talk about the LG G Flex acting more like a movie screen with its slight curve. TV screens are coming out curved of late, so there must be something that enhances media consumption, but again we’re talking about subjective taste, not cold hard facts.


Just the facts, ma’am

Really, that’s what curved screens are missing – cold, hard, factual benefits. It seems these days screens are just coming out curved…because they can. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s no real benefit to it either. Beyond just looks, there’s very little practical value to it.

Plus, despite curved screens having been available for some time now, neither the concept of the curved screen, nor the frequency with which we see those curved screens has seen any kind of increase. If anything, we have seen a decrease. That in and of itself isn’t necessarily a condemnation of the concept, but let’s face it, most of the time, the market dictates which products are successful. The market doesn’t seem to be clamoring for curved screens, no matter how much our editorial director loves them.

So what about you? Are you craving a curved screen phone, or at least more curved screened phones in the future? Are you more “meh” about the concept, and flat is good enough for you? Would you rather just have a flat-screened phone as long as that flat screen is gorgeous? All of these are understandable positions, but understanding is not what the weekend debate is about. So state your case down below, for or against the screen that hugs your face, and let’s see if we can figure this out.


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