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November 29, 2013

Samsung to Continue its Curvy Ways at the 2014 International CES?

Early last week, Bloomberg reported that Samsung would likely introduce a curved smartphone device of a different sort than the Galaxy Round it recently introduced. The Galaxy Round – still to only be available in South Korea as far as we know – is curved along its vertical axis (see image below).

The Galaxy Round comes with a rigid though curved body. Not to be outdone LG has put its new LG G Flex on the table as well. The G Flex curves along its horizontal axis see image on right).

Unlike the rigid Galaxy Round the LG G Flex body and screen actually flex. LG has also added a very cool “self-healing” skin to the case body. Between the flex and self-healing, it makes for an interesting combination.

We've covered all of these angles numerous times over the year, and we've covered Apple and Corning Gorilla Glass patents as well, which speak to curved smartphones (and, of course curved display smartwatches). What Bloomberg referred to last week is, in fact nothing new. Shown below is that “curved Samsung of a different sort,” but it isn't anything new. Samsung has been showing off prototypes of this curved screen approach since the 2013 International CES back in January. We’ve also covered Samsung’s “Youm” technology, which is the word Samsung uses to refer to its curved display technologies.

As the image to the left shows, in addition to the curved display itself, the display is also able to show different display areas – the above image shows the main screen and two side displays that show information oriented along the device’s long edges. Such a curve can certainly be added to the Galaxy Round. If LG were to try this, it would need to provide the curves along the short edges of the G Flex. We are not aware of displays that are able to depict compound curves (by which we mean, for example, curving the short edges of the Galaxy Round or the long edges of the G Flex).

Curves for 2014 International CES?

Samsung is expected to announce its Galaxy S5 over the next 3 to 4 months. It is also widely assumed that when Samsung does introduce the S5, it will also introduce the next version of its Samsung Gear smartwatch.

Should we assume that both the S5 (or whatever Samsung will call it’s next iteration of its Galaxy smartphone) and the next Gear will share design cues? We are definitely expecting this to be the case, and we are expecting as well that there will be some interesting new functionality the S5 will sport that will be intimately shared with the next Galaxy Gear. From a design perspective it is a good bet that curved displays and cases will be a part of Samsung's new design vocabulary. It is also a good bet that the Gear will share in this curve-based design vocabulary.

We can also anticipate that Samsung will add a great many more pixels to its display, which will allow Samsung to more easily partition its screen displays, likely to deliver the kind of multiple streams of information approach shown in the third image above. There will likely also be a tablet introduction featuring curved screen options and a much richer display pixel count.

These are all welcome additions to the overall capabilities of high end smartphones. With Samsung we need to assume that the company will also provide a new suite of “gimmicks” that may or may not be all that useful. We would greatly prefer to see Samsung adopt a “less is more” philosophy for its next generation of both smartphones and smartwatches, but the company’s current belief that a surfeit of gimmicks are what define innovation may preclude that.

We would also truly love to see Samsung deliver a much more proactive and integrated approach to bringing together its smartphones and smart TVs. It is time for Samsung to intelligently tackle the living room.

Finally, Samsung may choose to hold off on any of this until the 2014 Mobile World Congress (MWC)in February in Barcelona, Spain. With the exception of this year, when the Galaxy S4 ran too late to be introduced at the 2013 MCW, Samsung has always used MCW to deliver its flagship device introductions.

The coming year will be a fabulous one for new high end mobile devices. And Samsung is the company most likely to start it all off for us.

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