Mobile phone maker Samsung has demonstrated a new flexible OLED display that it claims is practically unbreakable, which could be great news for anyone who's ever dropped their handset and seen the display shatter into a cobweb of cracks.
The OLED panel, designed by Samsung Display, features an unbreakable substrate and an overlay window securely adhered to it. This differs from current-generation flexible display products, which attach a glass-covered window to their display that often breaks when severely impacted, the company explained.
According to Samsung, the panel has survived 26 consecutive drop tests from a height of 1.2 metres, as well as passing tough temperature extremes of 71 degrees Celsius and -32 degrees Celsius unscathed.
Indeed, the display has proved so rugged it has been been certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) for its durability, which means it has passed the rigorous military standards used by the US Department of Defense.
Even when subsequently dropped from a height of 1.8 metres – significantly higher than the US military standard used by UL – the Samsung display’s unbreakable panel continued to operate normally with no sign of damage.
The certification could therefore be a crucial step forward in the development of flexible smartphones, as well as other products including tablets, portable games consoles and automotive displays.
Hojung Kim, general manager of the Samsung Display Company's communications team, said: “The fortified plastic window is especially suitable for portable electronic devices not only because of its unbreakable characteristics, but also because of its light weight, transmissivity and hardness, which are all very similar to glass.”
Samsung has not yet announced any timeline for when we can expect to see a widespread release of any products featuring the new OLED display, nor a date for the start of mass production. Therefore, it may be a while yet before we can enjoy phones that can be freely dropped by even the most butter-fingered user without the risk of damaging them.