The foldable display form factor is expected to account for around 20% of the smartphone market by 2020, so it’s little surprise that companies are positioning themselves to accordingly. New information acquired by Patently Apple confirms that major tech players are gearing up to bring bendable smartphones to market.
The leak comes from Kolon Industries, which is the only company that has capacity to mass-produce colorless polyimide, a crucial component of flexible displays that will take the place of rigid glass sheets. Kolon has confirmed that it is supplying materials to Samsung, LG, and BOE and will have the ability to produce 100 million units by 2018.
Kang Chung-seok, who heads the colorless polyimide division, tells Patently Apple “around three to five tech companies are expected to mass produce foldable phones in 2018 globally.” Kang added that the first cohort of foldable phones will likely feature a 5 millimeter bend radius as opposed to the previously expected 1 millimeter. A smaller bend radius means that the screen can be bent further and more completely.
“The bend radius of 1 millimeter is the most ideal but that may cause a safety issue. So, tech companies are likely to unveil the bend radius of 5 millimeters first and then gradually unveil devices with less bend radius,” Kang explained.
As we know, Apple has successfully filed numerous bendable display patents. Google and Microsoft have done little to hide their ambitions in this arena as well. However, this latest piece of news suggests that we can expect to see the biggest smartphone companies duke it out with their folding smartphones in a little over a year.