With the Samsung Galaxy Round and LG G Flex, it appears that curved or flexible displays are the next big thing for smartphones, but are these screens actually useful or are they just a marketing gimmick?
Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate Technologies, had some time with the Galaxy Round recently, and concluded in a report that these curved displays can help with screen reflectivity and battery life, among other things.
"Curved screens are a major and very important new display technology innovation, particularly for handheld smartphones," according to Soneira, who was able to compare the Galaxy Round to the Galaxy Note 3 and a free-standing flexible display provided by Samsung.
Soneira found that the curvature on the Galaxy Round was rather small - about 0.10in higher than the centre of the device. "The effect is subtle, but it's very important," he wrote.
That includes a decrease in ambient light interference - or the "reflections from lamps, ceiling lights, windows, direct and indirect indoor and outdoor sunlight," Soneira said. That can be improved by increasing the screen brightness, but the move eats into a phone's battery life.
Soneira noted that smartphone makers have been working on reducing screen reflectance, and Samsung has it down to about five per cent on the Note 3 and Galaxy Round. But adding in that curved display can help even more.
"The concave screen shape on the Galaxy Round cuts down on reflections from the surrounding ambient light two ways: first, by reducing the screen's 180 degree opening angle, which eliminates reflections from some ambient light coming from the sides," Soneira wrote. "Second, from specular mirror reflections off the concave screen, because the curvature directs reflected ambient light coming from behind away from the viewer's line of sight. This is very important because you want to minimize the amount of ambient light that is seen reflected off the screen."
This boost means users can reduce screen brightness and save battery, he suggested.
With the curved display, meanwhile, reflected objects are magnified, cutting down on ambient light interference. Of course, that only applies when you're looking directly at the device.
"Anything more than a few feet away from the curved screen won't be noticeably magnified, so the above advantages in this case will be reduced, but this also means you are paying less attention to the screen," Soneira said. "Once you hold it back up all of the improvements mentioned above will return."
For now, the Galaxy Round (and LG G Flex) will debut in Korea, "due to the limited production capability for curved OLED displays," Soneira said. But "Samsung has informed me that as the production volume is increased, it will be introduced in other countries."