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Folding displays: Samsung tempts Apple with bendy screens

While Apple last radically changed its smartphone design at the tail end of 2017 with iPhone X – and doesn’t look set to mix it up again until at least 2020 – the big players in the Android world have been taking wild steps towards more futuristic devices.

Both Samsung and Huawei have unveiled foldable Android phones that flip open to reveal huge tablet-like displays. Neither looks quite ready for the mainstream yet, with question marks over real-world usage and a gigantic price tags of $2,000 and above. But it’s clear that foldable displays are no longer something reserved for science fiction.

Huawei’s screen folds out to double its size

Though in the short-term these designs are exciting and could provide a small boost over the competition, much of Samsung’s business relies on selling component parts to other companies. Now that Samsung has developed a working bendable screen, reports say that it has sent samples to two of its smartphone rivals: Apple and Google.

This move is clearly aimed at helping other vendors design bendable phones, bringing the concept closer to the mainstream and creating huge orders for Samsung-built screens. Apple, meanwhile, has been toying the idea of a foldable iPhone for years, with a long-running patent recently updated to detail the ways that flexible hinging could combat the wear and tear that would come from opening and closing a device along its screen all day.

Apple’s patent even suggests a ‘third’ screen that would be visible even when the main screen is folded away internally

Of course, Apple has a long history of waiting on the sidelines for a technology to mature before swooping in with its own (usually) superior designs. It’s generally happy to let others pave the way while it tinkers in the background – but this move by Samsung could help Apple perfect the formula a little quicker.

Only time will tell if these early attempts at folding screens lead to the designs becoming popular. If it’s not a hit, we could see Apple sidestepping the bandwagon entirely.