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Samsung’s OLED breakthrough is a step towards our folding phone future

Samsung has developed a flexible OLED display that the company boasts is "unbreakable", making us hopeful that the tech might one day delivery a truly foldable smartphone.

Although OLED displays have been around for years, we’ve still only seen a fraction of what they’re capable of. They’ve allowed for TVs that are almost ‘wallpaper’ thin, and offer unbeatable black levels, but one aspect of them that we’ve never really seen made use off is how flexible they are.

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Sure, LG likes to show off how its TVs can be bent away from a wall, and even had an OLED TV that could be rolled up at this year’s CES, but it never lets humans bend the panels themselves. Instead, they’re bent and rolled using nice, gentle motors.

The reason for this is obvious. OLED panels might be flexible, but they’re also very fragile.

Samsung’s new OLED breakthrough changes this. In promotional images, the South Korean firm, which is preparing to launch the Galaxy Note 9, is keen to show off how you can bend the display in your hands, and its UL certification means it should be capable of surviving 26 drops from a height of 1.2 meters without breaking.

It can also be heated up to 71 degrees or cooled to as low as -32, but this seems less important for your average consumer.

Samsung doesn’t use OLED screens in its TVs (it prefers instead to use Quantum Dot panels for its high-end models), which suggests this screen is actually intended for its phones.

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This has us hopeful that the screen is a big step towards the much-rumoured foldable Galaxy X smartphone that we’ve heard discussed in hushed tones for years. Obviously we’re unlikely to see a phone that you can completely roll up (the display might bend, but there’s a lot of circuitry in your average phone that won’t), but if Samsung can get it to hinge at just one point then it could pave the way for a device that could do double duty as both a phone and a tablet.

This bendable screen is a long way away from the truly foldable screen the Galaxy X would require, but it’s given us hope that Samsung might reach that point sooner rather than later.

Would you ever want to see a foldable phone? Let us know @TrustedReviews.