Thu, Oct 10, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Samsung launches first curved-screen smartphone

Reuters, SEOUL

Samsung Electronics Co yesterday launched the world’s first smartphone with a curved display, a variant of the Galaxy Note that moves the Asian giant a step closer to achieving wearable devices with flexible — even unbreakable — screens.

Curved displays are on the frontlines of Samsung’s innovation war with rivals such as Apple Inc and LG Electronics Inc, as the South Korean firm seeks to expand its lead in the slowing market for high-end smartphones.

The Galaxy Round smartphone is Samsung’s attempt to gauge consumer appetite for curved phones. Its 5.7-inch (14.4cm) display has a slight horizontal curve and weighs less than the Galaxy Note 3, allowing a more comfortable grip than other flat-screen models on the market, Samsung said in a statement.

The phone initially would be available only in South Korea and no decision had been made about releasing it in other markets.

Curved displays open up possibilities for bendable designs that could eventually transform the high-end smartphone market, where growth has slowed amid competition from low-end producers.

Technology firms have yet to figure out how to cheaply mass produce the parts and come up with display panels that can be thin and heat-resistant. Batteries also have to take new forms to support flexible screens that can be rolled out, attached to uneven surfaces or even stretched. The battery in the Galaxy Round is not curved, Samsung said.

Competition is heating up, with Samsung’s cross-town rival LG Electronics planning to introduce a smartphone with a vertically curved display in the first week of next month, a source familiar with the matter said this week.

Its components affiliate, LG Chem Ltd, said on Tuesday it had started commercial production of a curved battery for use in the device.

The firm also said it has developed a battery in cable form, suitable for wearable devices, and expected to start commercial production within the next couple of years.

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