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Overall phonemaker's profit has plunged, though, amid weakening TV market

LG Electronics, Inc. (KSC:066570) said during its Q1 2013 earnings release that it is preparing a flexible-screen smartphone for launch in Q4 of this year.  The OLED smartphone could be the first flexible smartphone to hit the market, after years of product demoes.

Analysts are concerned that low yields could make for a rocky release for the South Korean Android smartphone maker.

LG is also planning to in May launch in the U.S. a "safer" entry -- an upgrade to the Optimus G Android smartphone, dubbed the Optimus G Pro.  The phone packs a 1080p 5.5-inch screen, a quad-core Snapdragon 600 SoC from Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM), and Android Jellybean.  That places it in competition with domestic arch-rival Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KSC:005930) Galaxy S IV, which launches May 1 on U.S. carriers, and the HTC One from Taiwan's HTC Corp. (TPE:2498).

The Optimus G Pro is already on sale in Japan and South Korea.

OLED flexible
LG is racing to deploy a smartphone with a flexible OLED display. [Image Source: Shiny Plastic]

Overall LG's smartphone unit is performing well, improving its operating margin from 1.4 percent to 4.1 percent.  The unit moved 10.3m smartphones globally in Q1 and hopes to sell at least 45m smartphones this year.

But the company has been hard-hit by declines in its TV business unit.  While its overall revenue rose from 13.2T Won ($11.9B USD) last year to 14.1T Won ($12.7B USD) this year, its profit plunged from 247.5B Won ($223M USD) to 22B Won ($19.8M USD).  This contrasts with Samsung, which posted a record profit.  Samsung and LG are currently embroiled in a contentious court dispute over false advertising.

In related news LG purchased webOS from Hewlett-Packard Corp. (HPQ) in late February.  Thus far it's a bit unclear how that purchase will fit in with LG's smart-TV and smartphone offerings.

Source: WSJ

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By Ammohunt on 4/25/2013 11:30:27 AM , Rating: -1
Seems like more of a gimmick than anything. I can imagine these displays getting creased and destroyed.

RE: Interesting
By StevoLincolnite on 4/25/2013 11:41:30 AM , Rating: 5
It really depends.
If it's a flexible screen in place of your regular screen on current smartphones, it should prove more durable.
I mean, how many people have cracked, scratched or broken a screen on a phone?

RE: Interesting
By retrospooty on 4/25/2013 1:09:02 PM , Rating: 2
"If it's a flexible screen in place of your regular screen on current smartphones, it should prove more durable"

Yup... I thought that was the whole point. Not to have a device that actually bends on purpose, but a device that bends if pressured, rather than breaking.

I could see this working out well for the smart watch. If its a rigid screen, it can only be so big, but if it can bend slightly around the wrist it can be much bigger.

RE: Interesting
By BRB29 on 4/25/2013 1:58:55 PM , Rating: 2
no, it is meant to bend. They are trying to make actual newspapers obsolete with this also. Imagine just having one sheet of paper and it can be any newspaper you want with articles, pics and videos. Kinda like in Harry Potter.

RE: Interesting
By retrospooty on 4/25/2013 2:14:13 PM , Rating: 2
OK, with flexible led screens in general yes, I mean that isnt the goal with a flexible screen smartphone. At least I dont think so.

RE: Interesting
By BRB29 on 4/25/2013 2:28:43 PM , Rating: 2
They will make it bend. Even if it's not practical, it will be the new wow factor to sell.

RE: Interesting
By retrospooty on 4/25/2013 2:36:43 PM , Rating: 2
I dunno. It doesn't make sense. I can see it would be nice, bending to fit in your pocket like some were talking about in the other thread, but how many times can something like this bend before it gets weak,discolored or disfigured? Unless they really have some amazing material that doesn't wear out.

RE: Interesting
By BRB29 on 4/25/2013 10:49:49 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure the engineers will figure that out. There is no point in offering bendable displays if you don't allow them to bend. If that's the case, they'll call it durable displays military grade blah blah whatever to sell

RE: Interesting
By BRB29 on 4/25/2013 11:43:22 AM , Rating: 2
only if you're a kid that wants to fold displays. I'm sure they have protection around the screen to make it not bend so far. I would like a bendable screen so those big phones 5"+ phones don't feel so awkward in your pockets.

RE: Interesting
By hughlle on 4/25/2013 12:11:29 PM , Rating: 2
While i imagine, that if average joe is immediately aware of these potential issues, their R&D engineers probably came to the same conclusion and then re-designed based on these observations.

While that is what one would expect, that's not to say some companies have released products with glaring design flaws that were seemingly looked over during the development process.

RE: Interesting
By bug77 on 4/25/2013 12:32:51 PM , Rating: 2
Think about what users want from a smartphone: a small device (for portability) with a large screen (for usability). You can only get both with a screen that folds. Now, I can't tell you how this should be done, but my gut feeling tells me that's where we're headed. Even if this particular device from LG will disappoint.

RE: Interesting
By retrospooty on 4/25/2013 3:03:47 PM , Rating: 2
"a small device (for portability) with a large screen (for usability). You can only get both with a screen that folds. "

It will be interesting to see how it works out, but I suspect what you will wind up with is compromising on image quality and longevity (as in, after so many bends, the screen may wear out).

RE: Interesting
By Solandri on 4/25/2013 6:52:51 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt they will be able to make these fold (bending radius = thickness). The plastic substrate may survive folding, but the materials sprayed or etched onto it are unlikely to have enough flexibility to survive folding.

However, they should be able to eventually make it so you can roll these up (bending radius >> thickness). So you could roll up a 7" display into something the size of a pen. A 12" display into something the size of a chopstick.

RE: Interesting
By Amiga500 on 4/25/2013 12:33:11 PM , Rating: 2

Its Fekking superb.

You could have a 10" tablet screen size that wraps up into a something akin to the size of a pen.

RE: Interesting
By Ammohunt on 4/25/2013 12:38:46 PM , Rating: 2
ever try to write on a piece of paper that was previously rolled up?

RE: Interesting
By Amiga500 on 4/25/2013 2:11:48 PM , Rating: 2
Its a polymer - not paper.

People use acetate rolls with overhead projectors all the time...

RE: Interesting
By Amiga500 on 4/25/2013 2:12:47 PM , Rating: 2
*For the purposes of this problem, it behaves like a polymer - obviously it is not *just* plastic.

RE: Interesting
By Reclaimer77 on 4/25/2013 3:45:29 PM , Rating: 2
Have you ever used one of these displays?

It seems like you're against the entire concept without knowing any of the details. What gives? I'm pretty damn sure this isn't going to be getting wrinkly like a piece of paper.

We all said the same thing about touch displays back in the day too, remember? Well we were wrong. Virtually nobody uses a physical keyboard anymore on a phone.

RE: Interesting
By Ammohunt on 4/25/2013 4:51:58 PM , Rating: 2
Like i have stated just seems more of a gimmick than a practical display i.e. looks at our cool flexible display that otherwise adds no advantage to traditional displays other that being flexible. Now if they were making a 32" ultra thin fixed mount monitor then that would be something. Call me skeptical on the durability of portal flexible displays.

RE: Interesting
By Amiga500 on 4/25/2013 5:26:41 PM , Rating: 2
i.e. looks at our cool flexible display that otherwise adds no advantage to traditional displays other that being flexible.

Wow - how closed is your mind to the possibilities? :-/

Take a big widescreen monitor... that becomes harder to view at the edges due to angling away from your eyeline. Either get software to orient to the user towards the monitor edges (nigh on impossible given all the settings that would be needed), or curve the monitor. Thats easy now with a flexi display.

No more paper newspapers - just flexible displays and subscriptions instead. Newspapers can now get information out to their readers instantly - no matter if they are in work, on a bus, in a subway. Wherever there is wifi, they have up-to-the minute news.

Your a platoon in the field - you want to get up to date tactical info from your company HQ. They transmit all current data to a UAV in the sky, which relays it to your position. You pull out your "map" from your hip pocket, hit refresh and its all there. You could even get live aerial photography from the UAV on a big display and plan your approach.

Electronic billboards - traditional screens couldn't be used in many locations due to the need to have a firm fixture on the back. Flexi displays could be mounted across a road using wires and cabling from adjacent buildings. OK, in high wind it may be a little harder to read - but most of the time...

Car windshields - want a HUD in the car that can integrate with an infra-red camera to provide imagery of the road ahead at night. No problem with a transparent flexi screen. What about sat nav nearer the driver's eyeline? Or vehicle information without having to take your eyes off the road?

Bound to be loads of others I'm just not thinking of in the 2 mins it took me to write this.

RE: Interesting
By Solandri on 4/25/2013 7:15:15 PM , Rating: 2
I won't go into details, but these are going to be key to developing 3D holographic displays.

Arcing the display gives it a more consistent field of view across wider viewing angles (which is pretty much the whole point of having a 3D display). With a flat display, the further your viewpoint moves from perpendicular, the narrower the FOV becomes (at 90 degrees the angular FOV becomes zero).

Yes you could construct it using a glass display instead of plastic. But molding and grinding glass into arcs, and etching/layering materials onto the curved surface is expensive and a PITA. Portability and durability sucks too. Manufacturing, transport, and durability become much easier and better if you make a flat plastic display, and simply bend it into a circle or arc.

RE: Interesting
By amanojaku on 4/25/2013 1:34:27 PM , Rating: 3
How do you crease the display if it's in a housing, like any other smartphone display? It's not like the display is going to be the smartphone all by itself. It's like switching out the glass from a picture frame with flexible plastic. The glass would shatter from impact, but the plastic would just bounce back. If anything, the electronics behind the display would be more vulnerable, but I'm sure LG and other companies have thought of that.

RE: Interesting
By Paj on 4/26/2013 8:16:09 AM , Rating: 2
Disagree entirely, the potential for this could be huge.

If they can make them big enough and cheap enough, which they no doubt will in time, they could make projectors obsolete.

Imagine having a roll up display in your boardroom? Classrooms? Outdoor media? It has lots of applications.

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