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Samsung to unveil ‘bent’ smartphones

Tech giant also plans to roll out foldable smartphones in 2015

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Published : 2014-02-10 19:59
Updated : 2014-02-10 19:59

Samsung unveiled a smartphone with a 14 cm “bent” display, which was called Samsung Youm at CES 2013 in Las Vegas. The screen has a curved edge that can display information such as text messages.

Samsung Electronics, the nation’s largest handset maker, is set to unveil “bent” smartphones as a Galaxy variant this year based on the fresh investments its affiliate Samsung Display will be making in flexible panel production, industry sources said Monday.

“The bent smartphones will be rolled out as a Galaxy variant with a few million units at the end of this year, initially taking aim at the niche market,” said Song Jong-ho, an analyst at Seoul-based KDB Daewoo Securities.

Bent displays are a step behind completely bendable or foldable displays, as they feature a curved edge on one side of the screen. This type of display panel was first introduced at the CES 2013 in Las Vegas.

Helping Samsung Electronics fill the orders is Samsung Display, which is likely to make a sizeable investment in its A3 production line for flexible organic light-emitting diodes during the first quarter of this year.

“The initial investment will stand at around 2 trillion won ($1.9 billion),” said Kim Dong-won, an analyst of Hyundai Securities.

Samsung Display’s executive Lee Chang-hoon said in a conference call last month that the company is planning to roll out bent products and small curved OLED panels this year.

One source from Samsung said that it was wise for the company to first try its hand at bent display since Samsung has yet to address the issue of curved batteries.

Despite coming out with a smartphone with a curved display ― the Galaxy Round ― Samsung has yet to use curved batteries in its devices.

“Samsung’s battery segment is still way behind compared to its progress in display technology,” said the source, wishing to reman anonymous.

The bent smartphones, however, are not what Samsung views as the so-called “ultimate flexible product.”

“The bent device is the first step toward testing the market and gauging how it would react to its foldable smartphones that are to be unveiled in the second half of next year,” Song of KDB said, adding that the foldable phone would be the next Samsung flagship phone.

Other analysts including John Seo of Shinhan Investment believe Samsung will ship about 20 million to 30 million foldable smartphones next year.

Samsung showcased its foldable display technology at a private event during CES 2014.

Samsung Electronics vice chairman and CEO Kwon Oh-hyun said at Analyst Day last year that Samsung would unveil its foldable display in 2015.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)

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