The South Korean electronics giant is working on smartphones with flexible OLED screens. This is not totally new; Sammy and OLED expert Universal Display (Nasdaq: PANL) have been at this game for many years now, with some of the research funded by military grants.
The difference is that Samsung now hopes to commercialize flexible screens in 2013, bringing actual phones to market. Universal Display had been hoping for announcements to that effect before the end of 2012 but had to defer that dream to next year.
Flexible screens would enable even thinner and lighter phones, and there's no limit to the new designs Samsung could dream up. Moreover, scratched and shattered screens would be a thing of the past when you're using these high-quality plastics. Handsets like these would be a breath of fresh air among the hundreds of rectangular glass slabs with rounded corners.
If Apple was working on something like this, you can bet that manufacturing partners and tech bloggers would be leaking rumours all over the Internet. But they're not.
It's safe to say that Samsung will blaze a new trail here.
Will flexible screens catch on and force Cupertino to follow suit? That's up to the early models to decide. Another novelty feature won't matter one iota, but it's a game changer if the screens change the way you'd use the phone -- in a good way.