Do We Want Curved Phones?

October 26, 2013 in Mobile by bbadmin

Curved Mobile phones

Since the release of the first iPhone there has been virtually no innovation in handset design. Sure there are small differences in the materials and the very fine details, but look at virtually every handset from every manufacturer and you will see the same rectangular shape with a large screen on one side and a camera lens the other.

6 years on and we have the next big innovation – both Apple and Samsung have announced plans to release curved screen phones in the next year. To steal a march on their rivals Samsung has already released the Galaxy Round, but it has so far gone relatively unnoticed. So why are manufacturers so keen to introduce curved screens… and do we really want them?

New products are often released without any real need and with technology in particular manufacturers feel the need to be ahead of their rivals when it comes to new features – even if there really isn’t any desire from consumers for that feature. Curved screens may start out as a novelty gimmick to help that handset standout, but they could well be considered essential in the near future.

While we cannot say how the phone of the future will look, I would expect devices to become much thinner and to become more flexible. Intel has already developed an almost paper thin flexible screen, but in a mobile handset there are so many other components to consider – most troublesome of all the battery. These small steps into curved screens could eventually pave the way for a truly flexible and lightweight battery design.

What Does the Galaxy Round Tell Us?

But for now back to curved screens of the present. Samsung’s Galaxy Round has been largely ignored by consumers, so do we really want it, and if so what went wrong with the Round? Well to start with the Galaxy Round is almost identical to the Note 3 in every way, including specification. The only noticeable difference is the price tag, with the Round costing about 25% more.

The curved screen is only really noticeable on close inspection, so it doesn’t add any wow value when you take your phone out, and in terms of functionality there isn’t much of an improvement either. The big factor here is the cost. The curved screen doesn’t add enough for most consumers to take it over the Note 3. If costs come down, or the curved screen features on a more unique handset, then we may get a more realistic view of the market.

Benefits of a Curved Screen

There are two major benefits to moving from glass to more flexible curved screens. The first is that flexible screens can be made so they are virtually unbreakable. A damaged screen can be very costly, but without replacing it you could be trapped in a long term contract with  a phone that is almost unusable. A flexible screen will not only be harder to break it should in theory at least, be cheaper and easier to replace.

The other benefit is the reduction in glare and reflections. The curved screen substantially improved the display performance – particularly in ambient light, where current glass screens really do struggle. Even on the Galaxy Rounds modest curve there is a noticeable difference between its screen and the Note 3.

Conclusion

There are two challenges for manufacturers to overcome if flexible curved screens are to take over. Cost and Functionality. Functionality is especially now when a phone is not just a phone, but a multimedia device used for everything from updating social media and playing games, to managing work or monitoring the family’s finances. If manufacturers can improve the phones performance while bringing down the cost of flexible screens we could soon see the end of the rectangular block.