Last year saw many rumors regarding foldable screens on mobile devices, but no manufacturer has produced an OLED display flexible enough to fold in half… until now. In fact, there are many manufacturers out there that have committed themselves to producing foldable screens and devices in 2019.
OLED displays are a step up from your traditional light-emitting diode (LED) displays. LED technology puts off light when an electric current flows through it via a process called electroluminescence. As electrons in the semiconductor recombine with electron holes, energy is released as photons. The color of the light emitted varies depending on how photons cross the energy gap of the semiconductor.
An OLED display operates in a somewhat different manner. The electroluminescent anode is made of an organic compound that is situated between two electrodes. As the electrons move and recombine, light is emitted through the organic layer. It’s already visible light, so there’s no need for a charge of targeted energy to create the backlight. OLED generally displays deeper black levels that help with image contrast, all while being produced much more thin and flexible than traditional OLED devices.
The past five years have seen many manufacturers make great strides toward OLED displays. Some of them even use a passive matrix design (PMOLED) or an active matrix design (AMOLED). The difference between these two is that PMOLED has control over each line of pixels sequentially, rather than the transistor accessing pixel function directly like with an AMOLED display.
By default, the organic compounds in the OLED anode is able to be manipulated in pretty much any way, as long as the transistor used to carry the energy formed by the electric current is flexible as well. Once this had been determined, all the scientists had to do was find a substrate layer that can flex while keeping its integrity. This is the reason why glass can’t be used in flexible screens. More flexible OLED displays contain a flexible plastic substrate that provides both strength and flex required to be a foldable device.
Motorola and Apple have already been rumored to have foldable smartphones available on the market in the near future, but others are seeking to take advantage of this trend. Here are some of the other options you might see this year:
On April 26, 2019, the Samsung Fold will become the first foldable smartphone to reach the US smartphone market. This device carries an antenna that can reach 5G speeds, as well as a foldable screen. The unfolded screen measures 7.3 inches with a dynamic AMOLED display. Folded up it reaches 4.6 inches with a super AMOLED display on the front of the phone. There is no word on how the software will integrate with the two displays, but the Galaxy Fold will feature a 64-bit, octa-core processor and 12 GB of RAM. With 512 GB of internal storage and a battery that clocks in at 4,380 mAh, the Galaxy Fold will be an impressive addition to the Smartphone market.
Chinese manufacturer Huawei will be taking an alternative approach to the foldable smartphone market with their Huawei Mate X. The foldable display isn’t protected; rather, it’s used. The display is measured 8 inches, but when it’s closed, the display is wrapped around the device. This provides some interesting functionality, particularly when taking pictures. There is a viewfinder that can help you take pictures, which completely eliminates the need for a front-faced lens. The specs for this device include a Kirin 980 octa-core processor with 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB of onboard storage, as well as a 4,500 mAh battery with a 55W fast charging standard. This product will be available in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled for information as we get closer to release.
What are your thoughts on foldable OLED technology? Let us know in the comments.