Apple and Samsung Take Shape

By Lori Castle, Editor-in-Chief — February 17, 2014

The market is responding to demand for flexible data plans, but that’s not the only thing they are bending on.  Several curved phones have hit the market and the mobile rumors of what’s next in design for the big 2 are being stretched.

At CES in January, Samsung revealed a prototype of a huge “bendable” TV, that went from flat panel to curved at the touch of a button. For a screen this large (85 inches), Samsung said that it will improve picture and depth—believable, though still a novelty. Can the same be said for curved phones?

Samsung Folds
Late last year, Samsung Electronics announced the Galaxy Round in Korea only. This smartphone featured a curved display, made with the world's “first commercialized full HD Super AMOLED flexible display.” According to the Samsung Electronics official blog, the phone featured a “roll effect” which utilizes its curved body to enable the user to check the date, time, missed calls, battery, etc. by slightly “rolling” the phone over towards one side when the home screen is off.

Now, The Korea Herald reports that the next thing for Samsung is “bent” displays, which they described as  “one-step behind  foldable displays.”  The prototype of this smartphone appears to have an angled (or bent) edge that can display information.

Analysts told the Herald that this was the company’s way of testing the market for foldables, which the article said Samsung had already showcased at a private event during CES. According to reports, a top executive from Samsung Electronics also told analysts this technology would be on the market by 2015.

In the nearer future, Samsung is expected to launch the (unbent) Galaxy S5 at Mobile World Congress on February 24—a hint given by the name of the launch event itself— “Unpacked 5.“ Samsung  also provided a reveal in its official blog with a picture of the latest invitation. “The new updated Samsung unpacked image has come to the surface….9 new symbols have been added to the Samsung Unpacked 2014 invitation: Speed, Outdoor, Curiosity, Fun, Social, Style, Privacy, Fitness and Life. Also we are sure that you have noticed that there is lots of 5s.”

Apple Slice
Whenever there is downtime between Apple devices, there are “leaked” images of the next big thing.   This time, they were posted by a blogger, (who also admits that not all his news is “100% accurate”) who wrote that the next phone will be larger, iPhone 6, with “the design will be like a cross between the current iPad Air and the iPod Touch.” Said design has a rounded edge, but so far no reports on how a new shape will affect functionality.

Apple is certainly known for its sleek designs— a la Jony Ive.  But the last few iterations have been more about size than shape, and the majority of speculation points to this as the likely continuing trend for its smartphones. The way Apple might throw a curve on the screen is in its long rumored and awaited (but yet confirmed) smartwatch.

LG Flexes
Available recently from AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, the G FLEX from LG comes with a warning: The flexibility of this product is limited. This phone may be bent flat up to 180 degrees for a limited period of time only. Do not bend inward or twist.”

The 6.0” curved OLED screen is ergonomically designed to follow the curve of a face and is said to provide a more “immersive, panoramic viewing experience.”  There is a dual window that splits the screen into two panels and a slide function that enables the use to switch between three different apps at once. It also contains a curved battery that flexes with the phone and button on the back (rather than side) that enables shortcuts and volume control.

In a flooded, but fickle market, the shiny new toy—or in this case,  curvy new toys—might meet the demand for cool, but they won’t stand in the enterprise on looks alone.  

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