The rumormill lit up this week with reports that Samsung is getting close to having a tablet display that can fold in half. If true, this could change the tablet market forever.
A design patent the company was awarded last year could reveal how this will work. It shows a tablet with a large screen that can be bent about 90 degrees into a laptop shape, so that (in theory) half becomes a keyboard and the other a display.
Such a device would be as portable as a tablet, and well suited for casual uses like watching video, while being nearly as easy to type on as a notebook. Even so, this folding model probably wouldn’t be for everyone, as using an on-screen keyboard doesn’t appeal to some people.
Or a Pocketable Tablet?
Last month, Samsung received a second, related design patent. This shows a tablet that can be bent 180 degrees, which means it could be folded in half and slipped into a pocket like a cell phone.
Such a device could have a smaller (perhaps 5-inch) external screen that allows it to be used like a phablet, but then open up like a book to expose the full-size (maybe 10-inch) inner screen.
It’s important to note that companies frequently get design patents that are never used, so these can’t be taken as proof that Samsung has developed the technology to make them possible.
This is why the rumor that the company is going to be showing some kind of prototype bendable screen at MWC has drawn so much attention.
Samsung already sells displays to a range of device makers. If it really is shopping this new type of screen around, then the company isn’t reserving this breakthrough for itself. So a number of companies could come out with bendable tablets in the coming months.