Samsung develops a new ‘unbreakable’ OLED display

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iPhone X
Samsung is no longer Apple's only OLED maker.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Samsung says it has developed a new “unbreakable” OLED display, which could be used for everything from smartphones to “military devices” (so you know it’s tough!). The rugged plastic panel can withstand repeated drops and extreme temperatures, the company says.

Having previously been the exclusive OLED panel provider for the iPhone X, Samsung now faces increasing competition from other companies that want a piece of the Apple pie. But the South Korean tech giant is fighting back!

“The fortified plastic window is especially suitable for portable electronic devices not only because of its unbreakable characteristics, but also because of its lightweight, transmissivity and hardness, which are all very similar to glass,” said Hojung Kim, general manager of the Communication Team for Samsung Display Company.

The new OLED panel was put through its paces by UL, one of the official testing companies for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. UL reported that the panel could be dropped from a distance of nearly 4 feet a total of 26 times in succession without damage to its front, sides or edges. In an additional drop test from nearly 6 feet, it also survived unscathed. (That result apparently warrants the “significantly higher than the U.S. military standard” claim.)

Like using your OLED smartphone in extreme temperatures? No problem. The same tests showed that it continued to operate without damage when heated up to 71 degrees Celsius or cooled to -32 degrees.

Samsung and its rivals

There’s no word on whether Apple will use the new, tougher OLED panels for its next-gen iPhones, set to ship later this year. Nor does Samsung’s press release on the subject make clear what stage this is in the development process. It doesn’t say whether the panel is still an R&D prototype or a component ready and waiting for mass manufacturing.

Samsung’s invention does possibly come at the right time, though. Yesterday we reported how LG Display — the company that robbed Samsung of its crown as one-and-only OLED maker for Apple — has hit some financial difficulties. LG Display reportedly faces an “uncertain outlook” after posting its second quarterly loss.

As a result, LG Display is cutting its internal investment plans by $2.7 billion through 2020. While most of these cuts are supposedly in LG’s LCD operations, the move certainly doesn’t inspire much confidence. Not when one of your biggest rivals takes the opportunity to announce new “unbreakable” smartphone panels, at least!