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Foldable Phones Bend The Limits Of Technology

These new phones will hit the market with some as-yet unresolved issues and challenges.

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After years of discussion about flexible, bendable displays for mobile electronic devices, the first and most logical of these devices, foldable phones, will hit the market this year — along with some as yet unresolved issues and challenges. Early adopters welcome the introduction of such exciting new technologies (figure 1). But from a broad industry standpoint, which mobile phone designs will win with consumers? And what technologies and technical obstacles must be conquered to enable their mass production?

Applied Materials July 2019 Nanofab Solutions foldable displays

Figure 1. Foldable device-types. (Image sources clockwise from top left: Technobezz, itechfuture, mspoweruser, Forbes)

A number of issues must be resolved in the development of foldable phones or other devices, including battery life, form factor, manufacturing costs and price. Of course the most obvious and difficult problem is the development of displays that can support frequent bending, because users will open and close their devices frequently over a number of years. All these issues are reviewed in this article.

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