Complex Made Simple

Weekend Tech-Talk: Foldable displays are almost a reality

Displays have been around for a while. Whether you are reading this on an LCD, LED, or OLED display, you’ve come to know the screen as this stationary and unmoving part of a device.

However, In recent times, there have been slight teases of foldable displays, and they have amazed everyone.

Now, foldable displays might become a reality as tech companies get their patents accepted.

When will they be released? All the rumors point, to a Q1 2019 announcement date, but we won’t be surprised if one of the Chinese companies (Huawei, Oppo, Vivo or Xioami) beat the major manufacturers (Apple, Samsung, LG, Motorolla) to the debut.

AMEinfo opted to gather info on all the major leaks, and here they are:

Three companies are currently working on this tech. These include: Samsung, LG, and Motorola? (Yes, Motorola is still around).

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Samsung to lead smartphone innovation?

The Samsung Galaxy X, is its reported name, the mythical foldable phone that is yet to be announced.

Its screen will go from 4.5” to 7.3” when unfolded, according to the rumors reported by Phonearena.

Even its battery will be flexible, although its capacity is still unknown, it will be between 3,000 mAh and 6,000 mAh according to the rumors.

Another rumor going around is for a newly published LG patent which suggests that the company is aiming for the same foldable form factor.

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LG to beat everyone to the punch?

The patent was initially filed in late-2017. It describes a smartphone body with a flexible display, one that folds horizontally halfway down the length of the phone thanks to a four-link hinge, one that works similar to the hinge on the Microsoft Surface Book.

The phone has two mics, dual loudspeakers, and dual antennas.

One of the cameras will be placed on the outside of the closed display so users can take photos of the display while it’s closed. The display would turn on when opened and off when its shut and the patented display has a bezel-less design.

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Of course, the patent doesn’t describe how a user is intended to interact with such a device. It appears that the foldable display is a trend that smartphone makers are trying to solve.

If we want to talk, this is what smartphones look like:

Courtesy of PhoneArena

That’s an 8-year-old phone, colossal innovation in recent years, right?

But that is not all.

LG is also patenting a smart stylus pen that can potentially replace your phone.

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What sets this stylus apart from other (nonexistent) smartphone pens are its two displays.

The design shows that on one display, it incorporates app shortcuts, notifications and time while the bigger one is flexible and hides within the device.

A dedicated button rolls the display out and vice versa, in order to use it as a typical smartphone when needed.

Courtesy of Pocket Now

It can run all the regular apps and can even be used for browsing and texting.

Courtesy of Pocket Now

But putting the displays aside, the pen carries a surplus of sensors that are usually found in modern smartphones.

Courtesy of Pocket Now

We are talking gyroscopes, a compass, proximity sensor, pressure sensors? Wait, a camera? And even an eye-tracking sensor!? But that’s not all, remember how Apple removed its fingerprint sensor and opted for Face ID instead? Well, the much-needed fingerprint reader isn’t left out on this device. It’s a smartphone of the future indeed.

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The patent also hints at an interesting feature that allows the pen to be paired with any smart device like a phone or a tablet. Writing on any surface makes the writing appear on the paired device’s screen.

Courtesy of Pocket Now

But wait there’s more, Motorola, are also working on something that looks straight of a Sci-Fi TV show.

An underdog’s rise?

Motorola has been granted a patent for a foldable smartphone with a thermal element in the hinge.

The hinge heats up where the screen has been deformed from being folded and straightens it.

Using this design Motorola could make a flexible OLED smartphone that flexes both inward and outward, and it could even have more than one hinge.

Courtesy of Digital Trends

Motorola filed the patent application back in 2016.

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The technology is smart. There’s a temperature sensor that works even when the phone is off and folded.

If the temperature becomes too low the screen starts to deform, so the hinge heats up to automatically correct it.

Motorola’s patent isn’t accompanied by a phone unlike the others, and it’s unlikely we’ll see one soon.

Samsung looks to bring a flexible OLED phone to the market first, but even that will not happen until next year.

Either way, whichever company brings the foldable display to the market first, it won’t come cheap. The Galaxy X is reported to cost around $1850 at launch according to the rumors.