Samsung’s display business is planning to spend $7.47 billion to expand its capacity to manufacture flexible OLED displays for future mobile devices, including iPhones.
A report today from the South Korean publication ET News says the contract between Samsung and Apple has “practically been decided.”
Flexible OLED (organic light emitting diode) displays could be used in many different ways, including for devices whose screens are something other than flat. The display on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, for example, bends downward at each edge of the device, but the screen is not bendable for the user. It will get more interesting. In the next few years we’ll likely see devices with displays that fold or collapse like a piece of paper.
Flexible displays could end up being a high-stakes technology for the smartphone industry. The last big sales bump the industry saw happened when smartphones grew into larger “phablet” sizes, starting with Samsung phones back in 2011. The next big bump, some believe, could come when devices stop being hard slabs of metal and plastic, and become flexible objects that conform to a task or a user.
Display technology is seen as perhaps Samsung’s strongest technology area; its tradition of high-performance and cost-effective screen technology grows from its television division.
Apple currently uses an LG flexible OLED display in the Apple Watch, but not on the iPhone. If all goes well, analysts say the flexible OLED screens could show up, at the earliest, in a 2018 iPhone– possibly one called the iPhone 8.