Much like flying cars, smartphones with bendable displays always just seem to be “three years away.” We’ve been seeing prototypes and proof-of-concept demos for nearly a decade now, but with rumors about an upcoming Samsung Galaxy X floating around, it looked like 2018 was going to be the year that we stopped seeing concepts and started seeing things we’d be able to buy.
But according to Qualcomm manager of display technology Salman Saeed, that’s not the case. In an interview with Techradar, Saeed said that materials science just isn’t there yet to create a screen that can withstand repeated bending, and that it “might be years” until we actually see a foldable smartphone.
Saeed highlighted durability as the main problem that is keeping foldable displays out of our lives. “They [phone manufacturers] haven’t cracked the material science right now to produce electrodes that can repeatedly withstand bending and folding,” he told Techradar.
Although the Samsung Galaxy X is the only bendable phone we’ve heard about so far, Saeed hinted that most big phone companies are working on the technology. “I think it’s possible for them to [bring foldable phones to market]… All of the tier 1 phone manufacturers are working very hard on this. The big phone makers all have these devices in their labs, but it’s just a reliability issue at this point,” he said.
Of course, you can’t have a conversation about “tier 1 phone manufacturers” without mentioning Apple. Saeed’s comments reinforce the notion that the iPhone maker may be working on a foldable device. We’ve already heard rumors that it’s worked with LG on the screen technology, and we’ve seen patents in the past for a foldable display.