Bend it, shape it: everything you need to know about flexible phones

Imagine a phone with a tablet-sized screen that you could fold up and put in your pocket – sounds like the fever dream of a sci-fi fan, right? The thing is, bendy flexible phones are already out there, and the roll-up phone is closer than you might think. The O2 Gurus bring you the low-down.

What’s the point of a bendy phone?

It may sound like a gimmick, but there are loads of benefits of a phone with a flexible screen. Not only would it look pretty cool, but it’d mean you could have a huge screen that only takes up the space of a smartphone in your pocket. It’d mean thinner, lighter phones without compromising on screen quality or size. Flexible screens are also more durable than a flat glass panel – partly because they can flex to absorb impact, but also because they are made using plastic which is naturally more shatterproof than glass.

Ok, I’m sold. They’re years away though, right?

They may sound like a distant dream, but manufacturers have been beavering away on a flexible phone for years. Way back at CES 2006, Philips showed off a screen you could actually roll up, and since then the concepts and prototypes have come thick and fast.

Oh yeah, like what?

There’s Sony’s super-flexible OLED screen from 2010, so flexible it could be rolled around a pencil (below right). Then in 2011, Nokia unveiled the Nokia Kinetic that you could control by twisting and squeezing (below left). Later that year, Samsung published a concept video that showed a tablet with a twisty turny screen of its own. Then, at CES 2014, Samsung unveiled its Youm project, which is a range of bendable products with screens that, Samsung claims, are unbreakable (below right).

rollaphones

But can you get a phone with a bendable display now?

There are a couple of bendy-screened phones out there now, yes. The Samsung Galaxy Round has a concave screen that is supposed to make the phone easier to hold as well as giving you a very, very cut-down IMAX-like experience. We wouldn’t know though, since Samsung has only put the Galaxy Round on sale in South Korea.

On sale in the UK now is the LG G Flex, which is not only curved but also a little bit twistable. All you can really do is straighten out the bend in the screen and then let it flex back again, which has fairly limited applications at this point. But the curve of the screen is more immersive to look at than a flat one and should make the phone more comfortable to hold against your face.

We Gurus also have our fingers crossed that some new flexible phones will show up at the IFA tech show in Germany next month – stay tuned!

But what about that cool roll-up phone?

We don’t know when or even if that will materialise, but experts say you might want to keep a close eye on the news coming out of CES 2015 in January for an update.

What do you make of the bendy phones? Can’t wait to get your mitts on one or think it’s a bit of a gimmick? Let us know in the comments below or over on Twitter by replying @O2 with the hashtag #O2Guru. 

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