x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Samsung’s new handset has curves in the right places

Samsung will sell what it called the world’s first smartphone with a curved display as the largest handset maker moves toward devices with bendable screens.

A model poses with the Galaxy Round at the Korea Electronics Show in Goyang, west of Seoul. Samsung Electronics said it will release a smartphone with a curved display and a $1,000 price tag. Lee Jin-man / AP Photo
A model poses with the Galaxy Round at the Korea Electronics Show in Goyang, west of Seoul. Samsung Electronics said it will release a smartphone with a curved display and a $1,000 price tag. Lee Jin-man / AP Photo

SEOUL // Samsung will sell what it called the world’s first smartphone with a curved display as the largest handset maker moves toward devices with bendable screens in its competition with Apple Inc.

The Galaxy Round, with a 5.7-inch (14-centimetre) display, will go on sale in South Korea on Thursday for 1,089,000 won (Dh3,700), Samsung said in an e-mailed statement. The 7.9- millimetre thick device will only be available in the Suwon, South Korea-based company’s home market and in one colour: brown.

The Round joins the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, the Galaxy Golden smartphone with a clamshell design, the flagship S4 and an upgraded Note among devices introduced this year as Samsung offers products at multiple price points to maintain sales growth. Amid fresh competition from the latest iPhones, Samsung is expanding its handset line-up into new shapes and sizes as it works on technology to produce flexible screens.

“This phone signifies something that is much more important,” said Warren Lau, an analyst at Kim Eng Securities Ltd. in Hong Kong. “In the next 18 months or so, we could see Samsung launching foldable display devices. That is going to be a game changer.”

That could see a 5.5-inch smartphone unfold to an 11-inch display and help create a new market, Mr Lau said.

In January, Samsung showed a flexible organic light- emitting diode, or OLED, display that can bend as it plays images and said it has “various mobile application opportunities,” according to a statement at the time. The material is composed of thin plastic instead of glass.

Curved Televisions

The Galaxy Round’s curved display is designed to make the phone screen viewable from different angles and be more comfortable to hold in a user’s hand, Samsung said.

“The way we look at foldable displays is it could totally replace all the existing smart devices,” Mr Lau said. A foldable display device “could destroy a tablet market or a notebook market,” he said.

Samsung started selling 55-inch curved TVs using organic light-emitting diodes for about $13,500 in its home market in June.

Last month, Samsung released the Galaxy Gear wristwatch device that can make phone calls, check emails and take photos. Cupertino, California-based Apple also has a team of designers working on a watch-like device, two people familiar the matter said in February.

The first companies to sell devices that multitask could lock customers into their platform and boost device sales, with researcher Strategy Analytics expecting 500,000 Galaxy Gears to be shipped this year.

* Bloomberg News