Bring on the bendy phones: here's why we should all get ahead of the curve
14th Oct 2013 | 15:15
Curvy phones are coming, but Samsung's Round is wrong
I hate to disagree with my colleagues, but I think Phil Lavelle is being a little bit harsh on Samsung: in his analysis of the Samsung Galaxy Round, he says that "maybe one day we'll have a use for a phone with a curve in the screen."
Oh Phil. Phil, Phil, Phil. We have loads of uses for them already.
Here's my list: non-surgical buttock enhancement! Handy holders for street food! Effective protection for sporting gentlemen's unmentionables! Instant power shoulders for businesswomen!
Need more? It's a Shawshank Prison escape kit! It's a rocking chair for rodents! It's an emergency fascinator for weddings! It's a skateboard park for ants! It ensures accidental drops don't smash the screen! It gets publicity for a phone that wouldn't be newsworthy otherwise!
OK, OK, the penultimate point is the only sensible one and the very last item is the most likely explanation for the whole thing.
But while it's easy to mock, the problem isn't that Samsung has backed the wrong horse here: it's that Samsung's telling us that it has a horse when it's clearly pointing at a pony.
Love your curves
There are plenty of perfectly sound reasons for curved displays, and one of the soundest is that they can be lighter and thinner: for example, by making its forthcoming flexible displays from plastic substrates rather than glass, LG can reduce both the weight and the heft of smartphone screens.
That's not just relevant to smartphones, but to other smart devices too: imagine how sleek the Samsung Galaxy Gear would be if it swapped its flat sheet of glass for something much flimsier and more flexible.
Android in 2020
Graphene: the miracle material explained
How future phones will handle bright sunlight
There's the issue of ergonomics, too. You might find - as I do - that beyond a certain size, flat phone screens become uncomfortable for one-handed use, with the furthest corners too far away for your thumb.
Curved screens could address that, and of course banana-shaped phones would be a better fit on your head when you're making a call, assuming that you still use your phone for such old-fashioned tasks.
And then there's the potential for new and thrilling form factors. Phones are the shape they are because that's the shape we expect based on today's trends and manufacturing capabilities, but that doesn't mean there isn't a better way of doing it.
I can't help thinking that Samsung is doing with the Galaxy Round what it did with the Galaxy Gear: that is, take an idea it's been unsuccessful with before and present it again as a brand new thing.
Because of course, this isn't the first Samsung with a curved screen: that honour goes to the Nexus S, which was unveiled three years ago. Reviews said that it made the phone very slightly more comfortable to hold, but that the curvature certainly wasn't a killer feature.
Reviews of the Galaxy Round are likely to say the very same thing.