Smartphone makers bet on foldable screens as next big thing

For the past few years, the smartphone industry has been searching for a breakthrough to revive a market mired in an innovation lull and a sales slump. A potential catalyst is on the horizon in the form of flexible screens that can be folded in half without breaking.

Samsung and several rivals are preparing to roll out such screens to make devices more versatile for work and pleasure. The foldable screens could increase display space to the size of a mini-tablet, but fold like a wallet so they revert to the size of regular phones. But there are questions about price and durability.

If the new phones fulfill their makers' ambitions, they will become a leap ahead for an industry whose origins can be traced to the old flip phones that consumers once embraced as cool and convenient. Foldable-screen phones, though, won't need hinges because they have continuous displays that can bend.

In an indication of how difficult it is to make a flexible screen that's also durable, Samsung first announced plans to build a folding-screen phone five years ago. It wasn't until yesterday, though, that Samsung finally provided a glimpse at what it's been working on.

Dawn Kamber