With bezels on mobile device now shrinking into almost non-existence, manufacturers are looking at ways of increasing screen sizes without making everything else much bigger. The answer, it seems, is flexible displays. After new rumors of Samsung's foldable handset arrived in November, another patent relating to a different device has been discovered: "a rollable display with a fingerprint sensor."
The patent, just been published on the WIPO database, was filed on June 13, 2017 and looks like the prototype units Samsung has been showing off these last few years. It features a flexible screen that is rolled out of a metallic housing, which may be cylindrical or square. This display is both retracted and held in place by magnets. It's unlocked by touching the fingerprint sensor integrated into the main unit, adding some extra security to the device.
While it's easy to imagine this sort of screen not matching those of flagship smartphones, the patent makes a note of a model that has an OLED-quality flexible screen.
A number of other companies are developing similar flexible displays, including LG, Sharp, Polyera, and many more. We're still waiting for the technology to go mainstream, but 2018 could be the year that it finally happens.
While the device in this patent appears to function more like a tablet, Samsung is also working on a smartphone with a flexible display. Prototypes of 'Project Valley,' or the 'Galaxy X,' have been appearing at trade shows for some time, but a model number associated with the handset appeared on Samsung's support site in November.
Expect to see more flexible display devices at CES next week and Mobile World Congress in February.