Samsung launches smartphone with curved display screen

Galaxy Round Samsung said the curved screen will help users navigate the phone better

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Samsung Electronics, the world's best-selling smartphone maker, has launched a handset with a curved display screen.

Called the Galaxy Round, the smartphone will feature a 5.7in (14.5cm) display.

The launch comes just days after rival LG said it would begin production of curved-screen phones next year.

Digital display technology has been progressing towards curved screens. Both Samsung and LG already offer curved organic light-emitting diode (OLED) television sets.

Analysis

Samsung's launch of a curved phone gives it bragging rights.

The South Korean firm has beaten its rival LG by at least a few months to offer a handset featuring flexible-screen tech.

LG had previously pipped its competitor to the post by being the first to sell a curved TV.

However, the question remains why consumers should want this tech.

One of the big appeals of using a flexible display is that it should be less prone to damage than the rigid version in a traditional handset.

But because the battery in the Galaxy Round remains stiff, the device has a fixed shape and it is not yet clear whether it will in fact be less vulnerable to drops or pressure.

So it may be the case that an announcement on Tuesday by LG's chemicals division could ultimately prove more significant.

It said that it had begun mass production of both curved batteries and ones that come in the form of flexible cables.

The age of the bendy phone still awaits us.

Samsung said the curved screen display would help consumers use some of the features on the phone, including those that enable users to check information such as date, time and missed calls when home screen is off, with more ease.

At the same time, users can also change music tracks on their phone, even while its display is off.

The Galaxy Round will initially be launched only in South Korea. The firm gave no indication of its plans for a global launch.

'Internet of Things'

The global smartphone market has been growing rapidly.

According to research firm CCS Insight, worldwide smartphone sales will hit nearly one billion in 2013 - accounting for more than half the total of 1.7 billion mobile phones sold.

As as result, smartphone manufacturers have been keen to offer new products to win consumers.

With display technology moving towards flexible and bendy screens, it is one area that companies have been looking at.

Some analysts said that while the initial offering of curved-screen phones may not see huge sales, the segment of flexible displays was one to keep an eye on.

"These phones may not be a game-changer today, but they are definitely an indication of things to come," Manoj Menon, managing director of consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, told the BBC.

Samsung curved screen TV Samsung has already launched TVs with curved screen displays

"Flexible displays have a huge role to play as the market place for 'internet of things' grows."

This refers to the idea that many things in homes or offices - not just typical computers - will soon be connected to the internet.

The sector is tipped by many to be a major industry in the near future.

Mr Menon said that as flexible screens became more advanced and cost-effective to make, it was likely to speed up growth in the sector.

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