Nokia unveils new folding OLED display as rumors say similar tech headed for Apple's 'iWatch'

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited June 2014
Nokia's Semiconductor Energy Laboratory has unveiled a new kind of OLED display that can be folded like a book while in use, similar to technology that Apple is thought to be exploring for future iPhones and the long-rumored "iWatch."




The Finnish communications giant demonstrated two foldable, 5.9-inch OLED panels at the annual Display Week conference in San Diego earlier this month, according to Nikkei Tech. The panels were jointly developed by Nokia SEL and Japanese subsidiary Advanced Film Device.

One of the panels can be folded down the middle, while the other can be folded in two places much like a pamphlet. Both 1,280-pixel-by-720-pixel displays can continue display video while folded and are manufactured using a special technique that sandwiches the color filter, TFT, and OLED layers between a sealer and a flexible substrate.

While neither panel can be folded completely like a piece of paper, the fold radius is impressively small and each can be folded and unfolded more than 100,000 times. The single-fold display can be bent to 2 millimeters, while the dual-fold panel can withstand a 4 millimeter curvature.

Despite publicly panning OLED technology in the past, Apple is rumored to have changed its tune when it comes to the so-called "iWatch." Recent reports have indicated that Apple may be planning to utilize a flexible, curved OLED display in the new wearable that would allow for a more sleek, form-fitted design than competing smart watches.

Though concept devices featuring curved or folded designs have existed for more than a decade, the only such products to make their debut have been mobile phones and televisions sporting slightly curved displays. Apple's ample engineering resources and massive war chest put the company in a unique position to fully realize the potential of OLED displays to enable totally new device designs.

Apple has also been seen taking a keen interest in foldable OLED displays for phones, applying for a number of related patents. One such patent covers iPhones with interactive, wrap-around displays, for example, while another deals with using flexible OLEDs to create a "pressable" display.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    This gives the rumors more credence and if this is apart of the iWatch to give it more visible space then Cue was right in his assertion of great products in the pipeline. It would make all other smart watches look like baby toys. I wonder if this tech also makes the screen more durable from shock/drops/etc. or is it just more durable at the fold point(s).
  • Reply 2 of 38
    schlackschlack Posts: 686member
    can't see this happening on an iWatch.

    using sapphire over the display will force them to go with a fixed display.
    touch over a bending display will be an awkward user experience.
    and electronic components won't be bendable so it will remain rigid.
  • Reply 3 of 38
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,860member
    Still does nothing as far as convincing me to wear a watch or band. I consider my wrists permanently watch-free.
  • Reply 4 of 38
    malicmalic Posts: 13member

    Two things.

     

    One, the Apple patent/rumor-mill speaks of "wearable devices" of which a wrist-watch is just one incarnation of such a device.

     

    Two, what if we've all glommed on to the idea that "iWatch" means "wrist-watch" when it means "self watch"? That is, a categorization of devices that watch personal biometrics - of which a wrist-watch is just one incarnation of such a device. "iWatch" becomes a marketing name for a group of devices, not just one.

  • Reply 5 of 38
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member
    Does it annoy everyone else that every new product release is touted as a competitor for an unreleased Apple device?

    There isn't an iWatch. There isn't an Apple TV 4. When there is, Then they can be a competitor. Jeez...
  • Reply 6 of 38
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    schlack wrote: »
    using sapphire over the display will force them to go with a fixed display.

    The display being flexible doesn't mean it won't be placed into a fixed position. Same thing for any other component.
  • Reply 7 of 38
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Andysol View Post



    Does it annoy everyone else that every new product release is touted as a competitor for an unreleased Apple device?



    There isn't an iWatch. There isn't an Apple TV 4. When there is, Then they can be a competitor. Jeez...

     

    This is an Apple fansite. Every piece of tech reported on is going to be compared against the nearest Apple product, real or fictional. The wider tech press don't mention Apple in their pieces.

  • Reply 8 of 38
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by schlack View Post



    can't see this happening on an iWatch.



    using sapphire over the display will force them to go with a fixed display.

    touch over a bending display will be an awkward user experience.

    and electronic components won't be bendable so it will remain rigid.

    not necessarily mutually exclusive.

     

    making a curved display is hard... making one that is curved then locked in place by the touch screen protective layer (sapphire) would be easier.

    And I'm not certain that a rumored  watch display will be sapphire covered.

     

    electrical components can be placed in discrete units with flex connectors between, like links in a watch band.

     

    and touching a 'bent' display that has a solid base (in place around your wrist) is pretty easy... my problem is that the fact it's on your wrist (which itself moves, in 4 degrees of freedom), the touch locations have to be pretty big to allow for the sloppiness of the  target location.

  • Reply 9 of 38

    Bending to 2mm?

     

    iBook anyone?

  • Reply 10 of 38
    Kind of hard to imagine this on a wrist-worn device until they figure out how to make OLED displays that aren't terrible in bright sunlight. Maybe this has been solved, but the ones I've seen have been deeply flawed in this sense. Other companies might do it anyway, knowing that they would look fine until people buy them and actually start using them, but I can't see Apple doing it, given their track record.
  • Reply 11 of 38
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    retrogusto wrote: »
    Kind of hard to imagine this on a wrist-worn device until they figure out how to make OLED displays that aren't terrible in bright sunlight. Maybe this has been solved, but the ones I've seen have been deeply flawed in this sense. Other companies might do it anyway, knowing that they would look fine until people buy them and actually start using them, but I can't see Apple doing it, given their track record.

    1) Didn't the Galaxy S5, with its PenTile display get too marks from DisplayMate for usage in bright sunlight?

    2) Because of the deeper blacks (aesthetics) and ability to have very few pixels on for simple text or watch hands (power savings) I think OLED seems like the best option for this type of device.
  • Reply 12 of 38
    gwmacgwmac Posts: 1,796member

    Second only to my shares in Apple, my decision to buy shares in Universal Display which at the time I bought around $5 a share was the best decision I ever made with stock buys. They hold probably more OLED patents than any company in the world. They recently changed their stock symbol from PANL to OLED. All of the old complaints Apple had about OLED have pretty much been solved now so I can see Apple moving to OLED not only with the iWatch but also iPhone and iPad and possibly even the iMac. 

  • Reply 13 of 38
    gwmacgwmac Posts: 1,796member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post





    1) Didn't the Galaxy S5, with its PenTile display get too marks from DisplayMate for usage in bright sunlight?



    2) Because of the deeper blacks (aesthetics) and ability to have very few pixels on for simple text or watch hands (power savings) I think OLED seems like the best option for this type of device.

    Yep. OLED has come a long way so people that bring up all the old shortcomings from previous years are very misinformed. 

     

    http://www.displaymate.com/Galaxy_S5_ShootOut_1.htm

    "Best Smartphone Display:  Based on our extensive Lab tests and measurements, the Galaxy S5 is the Best performing Smartphone display that we have ever tested. It has a long list of new records for best Smartphone display performance including: Highest Brightness, Lowest Reflectance, Highest Color Accuracy, Infinite Contrast Ratio, Highest Contrast Rating in Ambient Light, and smallest Brightness Variation with Viewing Angle. The Galaxy S5 has raised the bar for top display performance up by another notch – an impressive achievement for OLED technology!"

  • Reply 14 of 38
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,812member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Andysol View Post



    Does it annoy everyone else that every new product release is touted as a competitor for an unreleased Apple device?



    There isn't an iWatch. There isn't an Apple TV 4. When there is, Then they can be a competitor. Jeez...

     

    Just be secure in the knowledge that Apple is the one everybody looks to for innovation, the one competitors know they have worry about, the company that disrupts entire business models and markets. What you point out solidifies Apple’s position as the world leader no matter what the techie wannabe crowd rambles on about who did what first or what their precious spec sheets tout. The world waits to see what Apple releases this Fall, not Samsung, not Google, not Microsoft.

  • Reply 15 of 38
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,812member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RichL View Post

     

     

    This is an Apple fansite. Every piece of tech reported on is going to be compared against the nearest Apple product, real or fictional. The wider tech press don't mention Apple in their pieces.


     

    Nonsense. The ‘wider tech press’ mentions Apple every single day. Granted it’s usually about Apple’s impending doom, it’s supposed inability to innovate any longer, the mandatory ‘five things Apple must do to survive’ crap. Even Paul Thurrott and Rob Enderle mention Apple just about every other day or so. 

  • Reply 16 of 38
    just a thought. iWatch may not mean a wrist worn timepiece. IIRC, Steve said he had cracked the TV game. Could iWatch be some sort of "smart agent" or something else related to TV? I can't help but think of Knowledge Navigator...

    again just a thought...
  • Reply 17 of 38
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,509member
    gwmac wrote: »
    Yep. OLED has come a long way so people that bring up all the old shortcomings from previous years are very misinformed. 

    http://www.displaymate.com/Galaxy_S5_ShootOut_1.htm
    "Best Smartphone Display:  Based on our extensive Lab tests and measurements, the Galaxy S5 is the Best performing Smartphone display that we have ever tested. It has a long list of new records for best Smartphone display performance including: Highest Brightness, Lowest Reflectance, Highest Color Accuracy, Infinite Contrast Ratio, Highest Contrast Rating in Ambient Light, and smallest Brightness Variation with Viewing Angle. The Galaxy S5 has raised the bar for top display performance up by another notch – an impressive achievement for OLED technology!"

    Raymond Soneira's feverish mind at work, plus his obvious recent pro-Samsung, anti-Apple blather.

    This doesn't change the point you have in mind for quoting him: OLED has come a long way.

    One thing he never mentions is the expected lifetime of the OLED display, compared to LCD. Stability, in other words. I'm curious about that.

    I once emailed Dr. Soneira and offered to edit his reports, to take out his rogue capitalizations and de-nerd his prose. I didn't put it quite that way, but needless to say I didn't hear back from him.
  • Reply 18 of 38
    gwmacgwmac Posts: 1,796member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post





    Raymond Soneira's feverish mind at work, plus his obvious recent pro-Samsung, anti-Apple blather.



    This doesn't change the point you have in mind for quoting him: OLED has come a long way.



    One thing he never mentions is the expected lifetime of the OLED display, compared to LCD. Stability, in other words. I'm curious about that.



    I once emailed Dr. Soneira and offered to edit his reports, to take out his rogue capitalizations and de-nerd his prose. I didn't put it quite that way, but needless to say I didn't hear back from him.

    Wait...what? I read his review of the iPhone 5 display and he heaped praise on it. He wrote a shootout with the S4 and gave the iPhone a better grade on a number of tests and had very positive things to say about the iPhone display. That site seems to be very well done and I see no evidence of bias. So just because OLED has improved which is obvious to anyone that has actually seen a S5 display in person he is anti-Apple? 

     

    OLED's will far outlast the time for the useful lifespan of any modern smartphone. Who cares if they don't last 15 years on a phone you will likely discard in 2 or 3 max. If you can find a more thorough review site than display mate please post the link. I would have ignored your condescending email as well. If you think you can do better then have at it. 

  • Reply 19 of 38
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,509member
    gwmac wrote: »
    Wait...what? I read his review of the iPhone 5 display and he heaped praise on it. He wrote a shootout with the S4 and gave the iPhone a better grade on a number of tests and had very positive things to say about the iPhone display. That site seems to be very well done and I see no evidence of bias. So just because OLED has improved which is obvious to anyone that has actually seen a S5 display in person he is anti-Apple? 

    OLED's will far outlast the time for the useful lifespan of any modern smartphone. Who cares if they don't last 15 years on a phone you will likely discard in 2 or 3 max. If you can find a more thorough review site than display mate please post the link. I would have ignored your condescending email as well. If you think you can do better then have at it. 

    I was basing what I said on his report on the iPad mini retina, in which he pronounced the use of displays with that color gamut "inexcusable," if I remember correctly. There are reasons for that compromise that he was in a position to know about, such as the unavailability of IGZO or LTPS in quantities that Apple would require, yet he chose to rag on Apple about it, giving rise to a widespread impression that Apple cheaped out on the mini retina display.

    I haven't seen the iPhone 5 review, no time to look at it now, so I'll get back on that point. To his credit, he was the only one that I saw who reported that the iPad Air used an IGZO display.

    Glad to hear that you can think in terms of 15 years for OLED phone displays. That would negate my concern, because as you say phones aren't used for that long anyway. I would think Apple would find a three-year display lifespan unacceptable, though.

    His site seems the product of a loose cannon using a PC to me. Very messy. Start with his fetish for the term "shoot-out." Yosemite Sam tries tech writing . . . Oh, and I wasn't condescending when I wrote him. Just wanting to help, and all that, for real, because he is the only one doing what he's doing. But then he came out with that iPad mini review, and I could only conclude that he doesn't see that he has a problem with credibility.
  • Reply 20 of 38
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,720member
    Bending to 2mm?

    iBook anyone?

    It is possible. This is just one of what are dozens of companies working on foldable displays. I'm not sure if the term iBook will be used but I do expect to see a foldable iPad fairly soon. Maybe not this year but it will happen within a few years.
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