In vendors' increasingly desperate attempts to differentiate smartphones, we've seen them get larger, smaller, thinner and now curvier, thanks to Samsung's efforts with flexible displays. But what are the advantages of a curved-screen in a smartphone. Korea finds out tomorrow, the rest of the world will have to wait a while.
Talking in the Round
Display technology is advancing at an eye-popping pace, with low-power displays, organics, the race to ever-higher definition all racing past in recent years. One of the holy grails has been curved or flexible displays, allowing bendy devices or roll-up screens. Why deploy that technology in a smartphone? That's a good question.
If you curved a device from top to bottom then you could have something more like a traditional wired phone where the mic and earpiece are closer to the relevant body parts. However, modern microphones and speakers plus improved software has made that less of a need. So, Samsung has rolled it across the long axis to create a phone that fits better in the hand, something that's more of a problem with the larger-screen devices. It might also fit better in the pocket.
First out the gate, with a South Korean launch for its first curved model, the Galaxy Round packs most of the internals of the recent Samsung product launches and weighs just 154g. It runs a 2.3GHz quad-core processor (not the Octa-core that recent Asian models ship with), 3GB of RAM and runs Android 4.3, driven by a 2,800mAh battery for just over $1,000.
Going With the Tech Flow?
The screen is a 1080p full HD 5.7" screen, and it has a leather-style back in a color described as "luxury brown." Some more pics on a Samsung Tomorrow blog post. We have to wonder if the curvature has the potential to spoil the displaying of information, video or other content, but presumably that is taken care of. The major new feature is that users can roll the phone toward from flat on a desk and it will show the latest information or messages.
Other features allow users to control music by tilting the phone as it sits on the desk to move tracks and so on. Expect to see more curved devices as others follow this trend, but can anyone do anything radical with the technology? Will that help it compete against the new iPhone 5S and perhaps even the new iPad mini with its boring flatness?