Flexible displays have been big news in the tech world in recent weeks.
Samsung’s Galaxy Round and LG’s G Flex have both hit shelves in their native Korea, as the battle to find the next niche in mobile computing heats up.
But surely the biggest story of all is today’s news item from Bloomberg, which suggests Apple is priming two new iPhones with curved screens, both for release in late 2014.
The leak comes from an inside source, and while Apple has declined to comment, it represents a major shift in how we all perceive this future tech.
It’s hard not to see the Galaxy Round or LG G Flex as anything other than gimmicks.
Curved screen TVs have been similarly dismissed.
The idea still feels too out there, the applications too unclear for anyone to see a use for such tech in day-to-day life.
The only place flexible displays make sense at the moment is in the world of wearables. A flexible screen on an iWatch is very different to one on an iPhone.
On the one hand, this looks like Apple playing follow the leader, a me-too attempt to make it look like it’s at the front of the pack after falling a tad behind in the past 18 months.
That’s understandable. But the source’s suggestion that the iPhone would curve downwards at the sides seems strange.
It’s hard to imagine a practical reason for a screen doing that.
Surely LG’s curve from top to bottom, making the phone comfortable for calling and apparently improving viewing, is the way forward?
But the fact that Apple is even exploring this as an option points to the very real belief that tech companies have that this is the next step.
If Apple is doing it, we know that this isn’t going to be a niche device released to test waters.
It’ll be Apple’s flagship and make curved devices the norm.
At the moment, it’s hard to reconcile that with the very real concerns of awkward viewing, glare caused by curves and the sheer lack of comfort of shoving one of these phones in your pocket.
But this rumour is a game changer. Don’t be surprised if this becomes the key mobile story of 2014.
Smartphones are still selling well, but the market is saturated and manufacturers need new things to sell.
It appears the curved screen has been chosen as the way forward. Whether that’s smart or stupid remains to be seen.