Foldable OLED Display: the Future of Phones

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Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has shown off a foldable AMOLED display prototype, the likes of which we could see in upcoming folding phones.

The prototype appears in a short video (via oled-info) and while it’s clear that it’s far from a finished product, ITRI says the screen is “rapidly approaching commercial standards.”

Durability is currently one of the main concerns with regards to folding smartphones — Samsung’s mobile chief DJ Koh has previously cited this as a stumbling block for its first folding device — so this seems to have been a particular focus for ITRI. The display is abrasion-resistant and can stand up against a kilo of “steel wool friction over 50,000 times.”

The panels are also fold-resistant, as you would hope, and are said to be foldable up to 200,000 times. If we assume the average millennial checks their phone 150 times per day, and that checking the device means opening and closing it (i.e. no always-on display), that should mean its good for a little under four years (1,333 days). If we go off more conservative estimates and assume we’re checking our phones 10,000 times per year, that means it’ll survive more like 20 years. Either way, it should see you through the typical 18-24 months of Android updates.

The question is — would you even want such a phone? Should we prepare for similarly unresponsive, unattractive and unwieldy (see the end of the video) devices? Probably not. The video reveals the mere potential of the upcoming devices; when Samsung does release its folding smartphone, I’d be surprised if it didn’t sport an attractive design.

ITRI was founded in 1973 and is said to be the largest “applied technology R&D institution in Taiwan.” Find out more about it at the official website here.

 

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