Glass makers such as Corning could be in big trouble, thanks to Samsung's new breakthrough screen technology.
Samsung Display (opens in new tab) on Thursday (July 26) unveiled what the company calls the "unbreakable smartphone panel." The display is a flexible OLED screen that uses an "unbreakable" substrate to keep your screen safe during use. There's also a plastic "overlay window" attached to it, according to Samsung. That stands in stark contrast to existing flexible displays that attach a glass-covered window to the display and can shatter at impact.
"The fortified plastic window is especially suitable for portable electronic devices not only because of its unbreakable characteristics, but also because of its lightweight, transmissivity and hardness, which are all very similar to glass," said Hojung Kim, Samsung's general manager of the Communication Team at Samsung Display in a statement.
Samsung published a video on YouTube earlier in the week demonstrating its "unbreakable" plastic panel in action, and we've added that video to our initial report. In it, a person compares the display inside the plastic window with alternatives that utilize flexible substrates as well as conventional glass. The durable panel is then hit with a mallet repeatedly, and shows no damage in the process.
In order to prove its display is unbreakable, Samsung called on the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to evaluate the device. UL, which provides testing for the U.S. Department of Labor and OSHA, used military standards developed by the U.S. Department of Defense to evaluate the display. UL dropped the display at nearly 4 feet of height 26 times in a row. It also tested the screen in temperatures between -32 degrees and 71 degrees to determine how well it would function in extreme temperatures. It held up throughout the test.
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To up the ante a bit, the screen was also brought to nearly six feet in the air and dropped several times. Again, it didn't suffer any damage, according to Samsung.
The unbreakable display could prove to be a problem for Corning and its Gorilla Glass. That technology, which has found its way to a slew of phones over the years, is widely considered the leader in screen-protection technology. But if Samsung's display is as good as Samsung and UL claim, it could be a real contender.
Samsung didn't say what the future holds for its unbreakable screen and whether it will find its way to devices. But look for it to at least come to Samsung smartphones in the relatively near future — perhaps with the long-rumored foldable Galaxy X?
Updated July 27: Demonstration video from Samsung Display added to article.