Don’t get me wrong, today’s smartphones are fast, can have relatively long battery life, and keep us connected at all times. But with a few exceptions — namely the BlackBerry Priv and YotaPhone — they all follow the same basic design principles. You have a 4- to 6-inch slab of glass that’s surrounded by a plastic or aluminum body. You’ll find a few buttons littered around the perimeter of the device and perhaps a single button on the front.
Everyone uses this form-factor because it’s efficient and it simply works. But Samsung is looking to the future, and newly unearthed patents show that the company is working on mobile devices that employ flexible displays to enable new form-factors for smartphones and tablets.
The most radical design shows a cylinder which appears to have an exposed tab. Pulling on the tab unfurls a flexible, plastic OLED display in a scroll-like fashion. According to the patent, the display can also automatically unroll by pressing a button on the main cylinder. For example, pressing the Calendar icon would extend the display and call up the corresponding application. Likewise, pressing the Phone icon would prep the device for making a call.
But the scrollable display isn’t the only intriguing design that Samsung engineers have dreamed up. There’s also a folding smartphone concept which features two display that are joined by a hinge (it actually reminds us of Microsoft’s original Courier concept). And yet another design shows a smartphone which can be folded into a U-shape.
While all of these designs are no doubt a fresh break from the “sameness” that we’re seeing with the current state of smartphone design, there’s no guarantee that Samsung will introduce any of these products anytime soon. The folding/bendable smartphone, for example would not only have to take advantage of advances on flexible OLED technology, but also highly advanced flexible batteries.
So in the end, it’s at least comforting to sit back and see what the future of tech holds, even if it isn’t exactly right around the corner.