Wed, Jun 08, 2016 - Page 15 News List

Samsung mulls bendable smarthones for next year


Samsung Electronics Co is considering introducing two new smartphone models that will feature bendable screens, including a version that folds in half like a cosmetic compact, people familiar with the matter said.

The devices using organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) could be unveiled as soon as early next year, the people said, asking not to be identified, because the matter is private.

That would likely give it a head start on new Apple Inc iPhones. The second Samsung model will have a 5-inch screen when used as a handset, that unfurls into a display that is as large as 8 inches, similar to a tablet, the people said.

Samsung, the biggest supplier of OLED panels for mobile products, has pioneered the development of new screen formats with its multi-sided Edge smartphones. Using advanced display technology might help the company recapture customers from Apple and boost earnings that have slumped for the past two years.

“This product could be a game-changer if Samsung successfully comes up with a user interface suitable for bendable screens,” said Lee Seung-woo, an analyst at IBK Securities Co in Seoul. “Next year is a probable scenario. Their biggest obstacle was related to making transparent plastics and making them durable, which seems resolved by now.”

Shares of Samsung rose 1.5 percent to 1,398,000 won in Seoul, extending this year’s gain to 11 percent. Suppliers to Samsung jumped. V Technology Co, which counts Samsung as its second-biggest client according to data compiled by Bloomberg, jumped 15 percent to ¥9,270 in Tokyo. Murata Manufacturing Co climbed 4.7 percent and Screen Holdings Co reversed early declines to close higher.

Codenamed “Project Valley,” Samsung could unveil one or both of the devices as soon as February, when Mobile World Congress takes place in Barcelona, one of the people said.

That timing would give Samsung a head start on Apple’s iPhone using OLED screens that might be released later next year, the person said.

The company might also name the next version of its Note device as the “Note 7,” skipping a number, to bring it in line with its flagship Galaxy S smartphone range, one of the people said.

Samsung does not plan to market the bendable-screen models under the Galaxy S name, the person said.

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