Who will win the foldable smartphone race?

In 2013, Samsung announced its YOUM flexible OLED brand, showing off several flexible OLED prototypes - including a foldable phone/tablet. Samsung never used the YOUM brand name again, but the foldable smartphone concept presented in 2013 (see image below) is still exciting consumers - and many of them are still waiting for Samsung to commercialize the technology.

Fast forward to 2015, and the first reports of Samsung's Project Valley started to surface. Samsung started to actually develop a foldable phone, with plans to release its first device in 2016. Samsung faced many challenges - and delays - in its foldable smartphone project (which was recently renamed to Project Winner) - including problems with the substrate and the software and user interface.

Samsung reportedly began trial production of wrappable OLEDs

Samsung first unveiled the wrappable YOUM prototype that you see below in January 2013 - a year and a half ago. While the company is already producing flexible OLEDs, and have adopted one in the Galaxy Round, they have yet to release a product with a display that curves around the edges.

YOUM phone prototype, CES 2013A curved OLED prototype device (Samsung)

According to reports from Korea, Samsung has now begun trial-production of panels that can be wrapped around edges (i.e. with a smaller curvature radius). They are still facing some technical issues with the plastic substrate, so real mass production is not expected soon. But Samsung may release a "technology-demonstrator" product, a limited-volume device just to show off the technology (as they did with the Galaxy Round).

Samsung reportedly starts producing 560 ppi 5.25" AMOLED panels for the GS5

Samsung is expected to launch the Galaxy S5 in a few months, and there are many rumors regarding this upcoming phone. The latest report from Korea says that SDC started producing 5.25" WQHD (2560x1440, 560 PPI) AMOLED panels that will be used in the GS5. The display uses the same Diamond Pixel arrangement as in the GS4.

Samsung GS4

Earlier rumors suggested that Samsung will adopt a flexible YOUM OLED for a premium version of the GS5. As a reminder, the flexible OLED in the Galaxy Round (which can be considered a Note 3 variant) is not a YOUM display as it is uses a glass cover.

Will samsung release a phone with a three-sided YOUM display in 2014?

According to new rumors, Samsung plans to release a smartphone in 2014 that will feature a three-sided display. This is a YOUM OLED display that wraps around the edges, probably similar to the prototypes the company showed at CES 2013:

YOUM phone prototype, CES 2013

According to the rumors, the phone will be released in 2014 (probably the second half of the year). Samsung hasn't decided yet whether this will be a Galaxy Note phone, or a Galaxy S one, or an altogether new class of phones.

The Galaxy Round finally reviewed, detailed and explained

The Galaxy Round, Samsung's first flexible OLED device sports a 5.7" Full-HD (386 PPI) Super AMOLED display. It was released a few weeks ago in Korea but there were several question marks regarding this display - is it based on a plastic substrate? is it a YOUM display? is the display unbreakable? And does it make sense to have a curved display?

My friend Raymond Soneira from DisplayMate managed to get hold on this phone and put it through extensive testing like he always does. In his post Raymond actually answers all this questions. So first of all, Raymond confirms that the display is indeed a flexible OLED built on a plastic substrate. But samsung used a cover glass to protect it. This means that it is not an unbreakable display, which explains why Samsung does not brand it as a YOUM display.

Will Samsung unveil a Galaxy Note 3 variant with an unbreakable flexible OLED display?

Update: Apparently two Samsung officials confirmed those reports. First up was mobile strategic marketing chief, D.J. Lee that said that a new phone with a curved display will be introduced in South Korea in October. Park Sang-jin, Samsung SDI's CEO told reporters that the new device will use a plastic OLED display.

Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 3 earlier this month, with a 5.7" Full-HD Super AMOLED display (386 PPI). Before this launched we heard many reports that the Note 3 will be the first phone to sport a plastic-based unbreakable flexible YOUM display. Some of these reports came from credited sources such as the OLED Association.

YOUM phone prototype, CES 2013

One of the more interesting reports suggested that Samsung is actually preparing several Note 3 variants, each with a different display. A regular AMOLED will be the most popular one, but Samsung may use an LCD in some variants (this is probably because AMOLED supply may be very tight).

The Galaxy Note 3 - so will it sport a plastic-based AMOLED display?

Two days ago we reported on new rumors from Korea saying that Samsung will have to use IPS-LCD displays in about 10% of the Note 3 phones due to expected AMOLED production shortages. Today MT Media (a Korean publication) posted an "Exclusive" article in which they say that Samsung will in fact use a plastic-based unbreakable 5.99" YOUM OLED display in the Note 3.

A prototype curved OLED displayYOUM phone prototype, CES 2013

This coincides with the OLED Association claim back in April that the Note 3 phone will use a YOUM display. Samsung's YOUM capacity (especially for these relatively large 5.99" panels) will be quite limited at first, but it seems that Samsung really has to innovate in their new phones. The GS4 is a great phone with a terrific display, but it isn't really innovative in hardware or design (and some suggest that sales aren't as good as Samsung hoped for).

The OLED Association confirms a plastic-based OLED for the Galaxy Note 3

The OLED Association posted an interesting article today in which they say that Samsung's upcoming Galaxy Note 3 phone (phablet?) will use a YOUM display (a plastic-based unbreakable flexible OLED). Samsung will unveil the new phone at IFA 2013 (September) and will launch it in Q4 2013.

Galaxy Note IIGalaxy Note II

Samsung YOUM displays use a plastic (Polyimide) substrate, an LTPS backplane, direct-emission RGB patterned OLED sub pixels and thin-film encapsulation (using Vitex's multi-layer technology). It's not known yet what the size and resolution of this particular display, but the OLED-A estimates it will be at least 5.9" in size, but probably will not achieve Full-HD resolution. The Note 3 will also not use a curved display.

Barry Young on OLED TVs, flexible OLEDs and 4K vs OLED:

CES 2013 was exciting - what with the new OLED TVs and Flexible OLED prototypes and launches. Barry Young from the OLED Association, one of the world's top OLED experts, gave us his views on the new OLED developments from Samsung, Sony, LG and Panasonic. Thanks Barry!

Sony and Panasonic both showed 4K2K 56" OLED TVs, with some parts jointly developed. How close are these two companies to actual mass production?

Nanomarkets: the OLED market will start adopting flexible glass in 2013

Nanomarkets posted an interesting article on flexible glass (based on their Flexible Glass Market report). Basically they're saying that the opportunities for flexible glass have never been better, and they forecast that the market in 2013 will reach $125 million, and this will grow to over $2 billion before 2020.

Interestingly Nanomarkets says that the OLED market will start adopting flexible glass in 2013 - with $4 million in revenue (this will grow to $280 million by 2020). Perhaps Nanomarket thinks that Samsung will adopt flexible glass in their first YOUM flexible OLED based panels?

Cambridge Isotope Laboratories - Deutreated Reagents and High-Purity Gases for OLEDsCambridge Isotope Laboratories - Deutreated Reagents and High-Purity Gases for OLEDs