Samsung took the wraps off a new flexible display technology it said will allow it to launch devices with foldable, rollable and even stretchable screens in the near future.

On stage at its annual developer conference, Samsung showcased its Infinity Flex Display with a prototype foldable device, which functions as a smartphone when closed and a 7.3-inch tablet when open.

Rather than rigid glass, the display combines a new bendable composite polymer screen with a flexible adhesive which can stand up to repeated folding. Samsung also reduced the thickness of the polarising layer of the screen, which filters external light to reduce glare, by 45 per cent to produce a thinner display more compatible with a folding form factor.

Justin Denison, Samsung’s SVP of mobile product marketing, touted the innovation as “the biggest leap forward in mobile display technology in the last decade”, adding it will “reinvent the mobile experience”.

Denison said Samsung will be able to begin mass production of the flexible display in the “coming months”, but the company kept quiet on an exact launch date of a commercial device featuring the tech. However, reports point to a release early in 2019.

New interface
Alongside the display technology, Samsung unveiled a new user interface called One UI, which includes support for the new foldable phone design.

Denison noted One UI will work across both displays on the device; provide app continuity across the closed and open positions; and allow users to run up to three apps side-by-side through a new multi-active window feature.

Samsung said it is also working with Google to ensure Android support for foldable display designs.

One UI’s other updates include redesigned app icons; a regrouped settings menu; a streamlined design that removes superfluous information from the screen; and a broader shift across apps to bring touch controls closer to the bottom of the screen and nearer to the user’s thumb. Samsung will also let users choose from a number of coloured background themes.

The UI will be offered as a beta programme for developers in the US, Germany and South Korea starting this month to fine-tune the system ahead of a scheduled commercial release in January 2019.