Forward-looking: Foldable displays have yet to become a mainstream success. Display manufacturers like Samsung and LG are working on several concepts for future devices, and they seem to believe that foldable and rollable displays will have an important place in a number of other applications.
Foldable devices are in a weird place right now. Some people are drawn to them as a novelty item after Samsung and several other manufacturers, mostly from China, have managed to sell millions of them already. The rest of the market has yet to embrace the new paradigm, while Apple likely won’t have a foldable iPhone or MacBook until 2025.
That won’t stop display manufacturers like Samsung and LG from exploring more foldable and “slidable” concepts, from devices that can be folded twice, to rollable displays that allow you to set the desired width based on the content you consume.
A few of these concepts have been showcased at the Display Week 2022 conference in San Jose, CA.
Samsung has even branded some of them, such as the Flex G, Flex S, and Flex In & Flex Out, and each of them fold in a specific way. Then there’s the Flex Slide and the Flex Roll, which are screens that slide from one side or both to make larger screens more pocketable.
Samsung says it will have a 12.4-inch slidable display available for sampling later this year. The Korean tech giant believes foldable screens also have a place in the gaming and automotive worlds, so it’s also working on a “Gaming Foldable OLED” that would allow users to attach controllers to the sides of the display as well as a “Digital Cockpit” for cars.
LG has a different take on the slidable concept — one where the device can be made taller to accommodate more vertical content. The company has also showcased a 17-inch foldable OLED that will debut in an Asus Zenbook laptop in the coming months, as well as a screen for curved monitors that allows you to adjust the curvature.
Meanwhile, both companies are hard at work trying to solve some of the glaring issues with foldable displays, such as crease formation, brightness degradation, and even using new materials to make them feel like glass to the touch. As for durability, LG’s foldable panels now match Samsung’s claimed endurance of ~200,000 folds before developing a noticeable defect.