Everyone is excited about the upcoming smartphones with flexible displays. There are many speculations as to what it would look like – a transparent slab or a rubbery mass. It may be a familiar form factor with a shock-absorbent display. It can also be something more akin to a folding map rather than a smartphone. People are fascinated by a mobile form which can be carried in the pocket and also have a large screen display. There is a great chance that such a device will soon be available for consumers.
According to experts in the field, the initial prototypes are ready and new products will be commercially available by the middle or the end of 2019. More advanced products will be made after the development of a few years based on market feedbacks and consumers liking. Companies like Royale are already set with manufacturing systems ready with them but they need to build more factories if large-scale production of foldable displays is needed. Market leaders like Samsung and LG are planning to launch smartphones using such displays. These companies may prefer to focus on curved displays at the moment rather than fully flexible displays.
New Designs for Smartphones
The smartphones with a flexible or foldable device may assume many forms. It can be a portable mobile device that unfolds into two screens. Consumers here may have to watch the video with a seam in the middle of the screen. The vendors believe that along with the multitasking features, larger displays will attract the customers.
Some of the people who possess knowledge on the matter also say that these designs can make a smartphone heavier and thicker. One trend indicates that the smartphone market has been currently driven more by the screen size than any other factor. Consumers are going to like the larger screens if they come in portable formats.
What Consumers Want
What public actually wants is a way to combine portability and a large-screen audiovisual experience into a single device. They may even agree to a rigid and portable device. This can be a good choice for most people because they just want a larger screen on which they watch movies. Screen size remains the key feature for mobile and other styles may remain the same.
Consumers currently want one device to have all the functions of traditional computers and smartphones. Flexible displays are likely to combine all of those functions into one device. This will require the electronics industry to reshape the landscape of its working.
Another thing that consumers expect is foldable and flexible displays in smartphones or tablets to bring the same quality and benefits as compared to current premier devices. The features like scratch-resistant screen covers, superior optics, touch sensitivity, durability, and long battery life may not be compromised. Consumers won’t accept any shortcomings in these qualities instead of them expect these flexible displays to deliver in terms of these features.
Eventually, whether these devices will be popular in the market is a big question. Cost of producing these mobiles is high and can pose a deterrent in these new form factors. Smartphones or hybrid tablets will be priced high initially just in the same way as most of the premium range devices. Prices will gradually reduce so that a larger population can buy them.
There are several of innovations brought out with a flexible display to tackle the challenges.
There are diverse materials to be used for flexibility. The insulators, barriers, substrates, semiconductors, conductors and many more delicate components need to combine into an extremely thin film. Change of a single material will in most probable circumstances lead to change in many others to make everything compatible, efficient and long-lasting. Because of the familiarity of displays in routine use, the complex technology involved in producing a flexible display is often downplayed.
The entire product has to be designed from the beginning and therefore it takes time. The corresponding processes of device utility design, digital circuit design, and product design need to be done differently. Flexible displays are being discussed throughout the world in trade shows, but companies have not tried them as yet. Even if the know-how is very different and fascinating, companies do not want to accept the risk. The investment will be heavy for a fraction of change in the user experience which may or may not result in sales afterward.
For some of the prototypes of the foldable and flexible displays use screen covers made of plastic. Plastic is low in optical clarity, highly susceptible to scratches and it can also develop cracks easily. Using glass for flexible displays is challenging as it is fragile and it becomes necessary to modify it through costly processes. Processed glass, therefore, can deliver the kind of quality experience consumers may expect in any next-generation mobile devices.
But there are many more issues with components of the phone like adhesive material, cover film, polarizer, and touch sensor layers. These materials can’t function well and withstand the number of times folding up to thousands expected from them. Thus, the real problem is in basic physics that has to provide with alternative materials and suitable methods to work with entirely new technologies. Various smartphone and tablet companies are really interested in flexible displays, but if volumes are not large enough it will be unfeasible for them to produce it with entirely new methods.
The Future of Flexible Displays
Experts believe that folding and unfolding is just the first step toward achieving the next transformation in digital devices. In the future, as things mature, there will be displays rolled up in a pen-like device that unrolls to provide a massive screen whenever needed.
The timing is also very significant for any innovative products to get set for commercial reality. A few years ago there were a few companies trying to create this type of device, but it was too early for the ecosystem to materialize. The technology, supply chain, equipment, and material companies were not mature enough. But now things are changing fast and the entire digital economy as a whole is matured to make use of technology.
People need some time to get used to a new way of using the devices and new technology. The only thing about flexible displays is that they are quite new to consumers. Once the large volumes become feasible there are immense opportunities. The market already exists, companies are interested and the technology is also available for flexible displays to transform the use of digital devices like smartphones.