The future of bendable glass was promised to be a futuristic one: phones that can fold. The actual glass we received relied on plastic screen protectors that were factory installed to prevent it from shattering when folded. LG is now looking to eliminate the middleman and improve the plastic. The company recently announced the Real Folding Window, which it claims will be as tough as glass, but not crack.
More PET, less glass
What's the secret to this? LG does not say much in its press release. It only says that the new material it uses to coat PET film on both sides is a new one. PET is most commonly known for the plastic found in soda bottles. You can apply the coating to the plastic, then cover it with OLED panels. This will result in a folding screen that lasts longer than current folding screens. LG claims it should also be more affordable in terms of price.
LG claims that the coated PET will work with tablets, laptops and rollable-screen smartphones. We are still waiting to see if LG cancels the contract. It sees the potential for devices where the screen folds inwardly, rather than inwardly as we have seen with the Moto Razr, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, Z Fold and Z Flip. LG claims it has made significant improvements in the fold lines of its screen. This could allow for more innovative folding phones designs than we have seen in patent applications and prototypes.
LG's current timeline does not see the tech being commercialized until 2023. It is also unclear how it will compare to glass in other ways (like clarity). Samsung is also on the PET train; the Galaxy Z Flip 3 (and Galaxy Z Fold 3) cover the ultra-thin Schott glass with a stretchable PET layer. This layer was superior to the gummy protector Samsung used on previous models.
Samsung is increasing production of folding screens for all other phone manufacturers, including Google, according to reports. It has also been working with Corning to build its own folding glass to rival Schott. If you are a gadget enthusiast, LG has more competition.
Samsung is pushing folders even without additional suppliers: We called Samsung's $1,000 Galaxy Z Flip 3 our first folding phone and the Z Fold 3 our second most normal-looking.