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Cellphones Technology

The First Phone You Can Actually Bend: LG's G Flex 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-in-case-you-want-to-use-your-phone-as-a-slingshot dept.
iONiUM writes "As a follow up to LG's announcement of mass flexible OLED production, and as a competitor to the limited Samsung Round trial which was only available in Korea on SK Telecom, LG has released the G Flex phone which is curved vertically (instead of the Round's horizontal bend, which many thought was the 'wrong way'). In addition, the G Flex can actually be flexed, as shown in the video in the article."
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The First Phone You Can Actually Bend: LG's G Flex

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  • by Valdrax (32670) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @07:38PM (#45340975)

    Why would you actually want to flex a phone? Does it make it more durable or more comfortable to hold in some way? According to the article, it takes a bit of force to do, so I doubt it's the latter.

    (This isn't a criticism so much as bewildered curiosity.)

    • by sshir (623215)
      It should be better at surviving drops. Part of impact energy will go into bending and not into shuttering stuff.
      • by alvinrod (889928)
        Also if the surface is curved, the glass won't be pressed up against the surface when set down, which should reduce scratching.
      • The last few phones my son had to replace where due to cracked screens... He will probably jump on a flexible screen that doesn't shatter when dropped.

    • by msauve (701917)
      I suppose it might save the phone if you carry it in a back pocket and sit on it. That seems to be a common failure mode.

      Other than that, it's a marketing gimmick.
      • by Urza9814 (883915)

        Other than that, it's a marketing gimmick.

        Two words: Impact resistance.

        I'd say the *majority* of smartphones I see have cracked glass. All it takes is one unfortunate drop. And not from great height. Happened to mine when it slid out of my pocket as I was sitting down...unfortunately above a hard tile floor.

        Although I don't think I'd want a curved phone...just drop-proof "glass". I don't think there's any actual glass that's flexible, so this would probably be using a plastic screen...so I'd only buy it if it a good enough plastic too. No point in

        • by msauve (701917)
          Flexibility and shock resistance are two different things. Think of a piece of taffy - you can bend it slowly, but smack it against a table and it breaks into pieces.

          The real solution, though, is for your friends to take better care of their shit.
          • by Urza9814 (883915)

            That just shows that smacking it against the table imparts more force than bending it slowly. If you freeze it it loses flexibility and will shatter with the same force that would just bend it previously. F=ma. If it's flexible, you get a smaller a on impact.

            And yeah, in a perfect world, nobody would ever drop or damage anything. But shit happens.

    • by iONiUM (530420) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @08:36PM (#45341349) Homepage Journal

      I honestly I think this, like the Samsung Round, is a "shot in the market" to see what people want. Basically Korean makers now have flexible screens, but can't (yet) make fully flexible phones, so they're just sort of coming up with random phones to see where the interest lies.

      It's basically early alpha editions of what will eventually be fully flexible phones. That's my take, anyways, from visiting Korea and seeing this stuff.

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        Basically Korean makers now have flexible screens, but can't (yet) make fully flexible phones, so they're just sort of coming up with random phones to see where the interest lies.

        South Korea and China are huge test beds for new cell phones.
        Half of South Korea's population lives in/around Seoul and China has 4 of the top ten largest cities in the world.
        Considering that everything is manufactured there (and Japan) it makes sense that they're testing out new things in Asia.

        It's basically early alpha editions of what will eventually be fully flexible phones.

        The USA and Europe are usually a generation or more behind in technology &/or features.
        Which is why we're reading about an "alpha edition" that is only sold in South Korea.
        It's also why our wired internet is slow

        • I wouldn't say the US and Europe are behind. Like you said Asia is a test market so they get the good and the bad. Saying Asia is ahead is like running a beta of windows and saying you're a generation ahead of everyone, just because you're running the beta doesn't mean it's a good thing.
        • Internet speeds in the US are not slower, they're some of the best in the world. The problem is that to get those higher bandwidth speeds you have to pay an arm and a leg.
      • I honestly I think this, like the Samsung Round, is a "shot in the market" to see what people want. Basically Korean makers now have flexible screens, but can't (yet) make fully flexible phones, so they're just sort of coming up with random phones to see where the interest lies.

        It's basically early alpha editions of what will eventually be fully flexible phones. That's my take, anyways, from visiting Korea and seeing this stuff.

        Why would I want a fully flexible phone that can be twisted like a block of rubber? A device like this one [dvice.com], for example, would just annoy me. I can see lots of uses for electronic paper, like wallpapering your apartment with it and changing the scenery on the walls depending on your moods (like they did in Cloud Atlas) but rubber phones? Perhaps if the device was mildly bendable and would adjust to the shape of your butt-cheek like this one does when you stuff it into your back trouser pocket that might be

        • by Urza9814 (883915)

          What about a flexible screen that can become rigid on-demand? Unroll your scroll e-reader, and when it opens fully it snaps open and holds its position...then you press a button and it rolls right back up. Could do that with some kind of pneumatic bladders or electromagnets. Or just simple mechanics -- build a frame as hinged rigid sections that open to only 180 degrees..so it won't bend when you tap on it, because it can only bend towards you. Add some magnets to the hinges if you don't want it flapping fo

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      If it's to help the phone survive drops, then that's what they should talk about.

      I can't imagine a reason I would ever want to bend my phone.

      Now if I were planning on going to prison, I could see how a bendable phone might make it easier to smuggle one into my cell, but it's still not going to be very comfortable, going in or coming out. And god forbid I get a call while my phone is hidden in a body cavity. I keep my phone on vibrate and it could get very embarrassing.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        god forbid I get a call while my phone is hidden in a body cavity. I keep my phone on vibrate and it could get very embarrassing.

        Don't be embarrassed; it's okay to feel good!

    • I've laid awake at night for years hoping for a bendable phone.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      What do you use as a wallet? Not a rigid box made of metal and glass, I'll wager.
      • by gmhowell (26755)

        What do you use as a wallet? Not a rigid box made of metal and glass, I'll wager.

        I don't, but some do [alumawallet.com].

      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        No, but a wallet is significantly thicker. It also has to fold in order to reduce money to a more pocketable size(unless we redesign our paper bills to be the size of credit cards - which actually may be a good idea).

        If my wallet were the size of a cell phone and didn't fold I'd have no problems with a rigid one - heck I'd probably prefer it. Things get pretty beat up in there as it is.

      • by Valdrax (32670)

        What do you use as a wallet? Not a rigid box made of metal and glass, I'll wager.

        I've never understood how people can sit comfortably with even a normal wallet in their back pocket. I wouldn't keep my phone in a back pocket either.

    • by gmhowell (26755)

      Why would you actually want to flex a phone?

      Given the strange attraction some on slashdot seem to have to technological devices, I'm imagining Rule 34 enters into it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by davydagger (2566757)

      Durability, thats why.

      Think about it, when you drop you phone, a phone that bounces is going to release the kinetic energy as vibration. the phone that is hard and solid is going to absorb the energy.

      In science class as a kid, you must have done the experment with shattering a frozen rubberband. Similar concept in reverse

      • And if can harness that power, we can charge our phones by dropping them!

        "Why yes. I did drop my phone on purpose."

    • by asmkm22 (1902712)

      I see a lot of people who keep their phones in their back pocket, in which case a flexible phone might be nice to have. Aside from that, I think the point is just to make a phone that can withstand different types of stress and open up more shapes beyond a flat slab.

      For example, it seems like have a phone with a slight curve to it (such as the one in TFA) might make it a bit easier to talk with it rested on your shoulder like you could do with old school house phones.

    • by Solandri (704621)
      Yes it makes it more durable. The more rigid the body, the faster it decelerates when dropped and hits the ground. The faster it decelerates, the greater the acceleration forces. SInce F = ma, high acceleration = high forces on the internal components. Contrary to conventional wisdom, you don't want your phone to be a rigid metal body. They tried that in the 1940s and 1950s with cars, with the result that the cars were surviving the crashes while the passengers inside were turning into paste. You want
      • by Urza9814 (883915)

        The fly in the ointment so far has been that the most delicate component on a phone is the screen, which has to be on the outside, and has to be the full size of the device. So its impossible to house it inside a protective cage (well, some phone cases attempt to do that, with rather ugly results). But if the screen is flexible it's no longer the most delicate component.

        I've never once seen a broken *screen* -- not on a smartphone at least. What I see constantly (more often than not it seems!) is broken *glass*. If this is flexible and still feels like glass, I'd buy it in a second. If it's just crap cheap plastic...then probably not.

        Of course, if you replaced the glass on a normal smartphone with something more flexible but kept the rigid screen you probably would see more broken screens....

    • It's probably because they have some patents on it that Apple doesn't have.

    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      I'm with you there. It particularly seems odd considering that one of the primary adjectives used to describe a device of low quality is "flimsy".

      Flexing in most construction implies weakness/lack of durability (whether or not it does here is somewhat irrelevant - the human mind is largely set to think of flexing as bad). Just seems like a strange "feature" to add.

      • by Urza9814 (883915)

        I'm with you there. It particularly seems odd considering that one of the primary adjectives used to describe a device of low quality is "flimsy".

        Why is that odd? Flimsy means thin and poor quality. Can't find a single definition that uses 'flexible' or any of its synonymns. So I'm not sure how that's related...

        To me, a 'flimsy house' is one that's gonna collapse with a gust of wind. I'd expect something built of corrugated aluminum. A 'flexible house' though is one designed to withstand earthquakes and would be damn near indestructible.

        I actually can't think of a single time I've heard 'flexible' considered to be a bad thing. I mean yeah nobody is g

    • by steelfood (895457)

      Presumably so that if you drop something heavy onto the screen itself, it'd be less likely to crack under the sudden load.

      I don't know if anyone really knows what to do with this technology yet. It's not thin nor flexible enough for shrinking the size of the device while keeping the same maximum screen size. The supporting electronics haven't been miniaturized to that point either.

      It does make some kind of wristband screen possible, but that form factor is clunky from a UI perspective if the device is small

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This one just can be flexed more than once.
  • by rve (4436)

    How did they make the battery flexible? It's a little light on the details.

    • by leftover (210560)

      Rectilinear "pouch" type lithium-polymer batteries are mostly flexible. It's the glass in the display that isn't. Finding another oxygen barrier that flexes is the real breakthrough.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How did they make the battery flexible? It's a little light on the details.

      Exactly. Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine. I don't even recall there being a tape or video. It was probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably about a year ago.

      • by Svartormr (692822)

        Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine. I don't even recall there being a tape or video. It was probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably about a year ago.

        Rob Ford, is that you?

    • by citizenr (871508)

      Same way they made Nike fuel bands flexible.

      • by Urza9814 (883915)

        There's a small part of the band that doesn't flex, and the batteries (and all the other electronics) are in there. That works fine, because the battery is much smaller than the device. It's basically like a wristwatch. Sure, the band bends, but the electronics don't.

        For a smartphone the battery is usually around a quarter of the size of the entire device. So that trick doesn't work so well. But this phone is hardly an armband. It flexes slightly, it doesn't wrap, so you wouldn't need much flex in the batte

  • by xevioso (598654) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @07:45PM (#45341029)

    Soon you will pull out a small device, the same size as an iphone, but with two tubes at either end. And on a whim, you will unroll these tubes, revealing a large horizontal screen, where you can read your internets!

    BEHOLD!!! Cometh soon the iSCROLL! For all your iPapyrus needs!

    • You mean the Earth: Final Conflict communicator. We're already there - the problem is with yield (which makes the displays expensive) and longevity (entire rows/columns dropping out), though.

    • by Qzukk (229616)

      And yet such a design would fix the issue of trying to see anything useful on these itty bitty little screens. (Oh look, I can read websites either three words per line or three lines per screen!)

      In my head though, I'm imagining it sort of like a lint roller, where you hold the handle, and unroll as much screen as you need to use. My imagination can't stop it from looking like anything other than a cheap toy, though.

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Easier, you have the screen wrap around to the back, via the side, and the back half deactivated when as a phone. The phone splits open like a horizontal flip phone, except both surfaces are flush and hinges designed to elongate the entire design so the screen is a little stretched (minimizes the fold from previous form). One side of the phone contains the circuitry, logic board, other side the battery and what not.

    • by Solandri (704621)
      You jest, but I really think that's the direction mobile computing is going to go. If you open up a modern tablet, the "computer" part of it is a thin PCB little wider than a stick of gum [ifixit.com]. The battery can be molded to fit whatever shape you want. The only reason tablets are the bulky slate shape (which has tremendously excessive surface area for the volume of components) is because of the screen. As technology progresses, the computer bits are going to continue to get smaller, and both battery capacity
  • by LoudMusic (199347) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @07:47PM (#45341047)

    I actually like the idea of a curved display. I don't fully understand the point of flexible - especially in this instance where it has to be forced so hard.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Forget curved. A retractable display is the feature that we need. This is just a stop-gap for such technology.

      It would be cool to make a folding paper fan like phone. Stylish and functional. Changeable patterns and maybe a transparent mode which light flows through it saving on battery life.

  • by edxwelch (600979)

    That's a pretty big disappointment. We were led to believe that it would flex 180Â like in this picture: http://tech.infaround.com/2013/04/25/lg-to-unveil-new-smartphone-with-flexible-oled-display-later-this-year/ [infaround.com]

  • This would cover the two big reasons why a phone needs to be replaced, the third being lost/stolen.

    Add a tracking system so the phone can be retrieved and you can rule the world.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Oh, great, just what the world needs, the ability for everyone to post to Twitter, Facebook,Youtube etc from the bottom of the pools, including your favorite skinny dipping sites.

  • If you are going to have a flexible screen one would think you wouldn't use glass to cover it. You would need a material that also flexes. If it flexes it isn't going to be very hard and is likely to accumulate scratches like the old-school plastic screens. Not to say the tech is useless; it just seems to have limited applications in today's standard rectangle phones. Perhaps the tech will evolve enough to inspire a new phone design. Until then, meh.

  • What was that a 5 degree bend?

  • by Orleron (835910)
    Sorry but that's not flexible. If I can't fold it into quarters and stick it in my pocket, don't tell me it is.
  • by TsuruchiBrian (2731979) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @08:45PM (#45341409)
    From like 2004 to 2011 I had a phone that I had to bend in half to answer.
  • The Nokia 8110 (Banana phone) was very popular in its time. It has always surprised me that it's a design that hasn't been revisited. Perhaps this is its time.

  • Between phones and sex toys.

  • Inflatable (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @10:01PM (#45341861)

    I'm waiting for inflatable screens.

    Like a regular to small size phone but for those times you need something bigger than 5" it has a little valve you can blow into when which will inflate a screen that is bigger than a tablet. When you are done, just squish the air out and stick it back in your pocket.

  • You could be phones for years and years. The problem was that they didn't bend back. The ability to bend back, that's what's important. That and the ability to bend that first time without breaking....

  • but will it blend? I'll show myself out now.
  • Completely abused here.
    No offence, but a phone that can "flex" 1/2mm by using extreme force is not a breakthrough. Its on the side of pointless.

    If we are using LG's definition of "flex", my motherboard does it better, not to mention, my monitor is constantly flexing by 0.01mm on its own.

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