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Samsung Rollable PanelNow that the “Smartphone 1.0” era is apparently coming to an end, manufacturers are rolling up their sleeves to try and figure out what comes next. Google is betting big with its Project Ara modular smartphone, but other OEMs, like Samsung, are taking a different path.

A report from Bloomberg is saying that the Korean giant may be working on two experimental devices with rollable and foldable screens, which may see the light of day as early as next year…

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve shown you bits of Samsung’s new approach to hardware, mainly referencing its advancements in display technology. At San Francisco’s SID conference earlier this month, the company showed off a prototype for a paper-thin (0.3mm) rollable display capable of being squeezed into a 10mm radius tube, while new patents gave us a peek at potential concepts of a flip phone-like bendable smartphone.

As it turns out, both of these ideas may become actual products within the next year, hitting the consumer market as flagship devices under a yet-to-be-defined moniker – as ‘Galaxy S’ will reportedly not be used.

The first handset should sport a 5-inch screen when used as such, and then somehow “unfurl into a display that’s as large as 8 inches” to essentially transform into small tablet; however it is not clear how the unused portion of the screen should fold or bend when the device is used as a phone. The second concept is instead pretty much the one we saw in the aforementioned patents, as in a smartphone “that folds in half like a cosmetic compact,” people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

“This product could be a game-changer if Samsung successfully comes up with a user interface suitable for bendable screens,” Lee Seung Woo, an analyst at IBK Securities Co. in Seoul, told Bloomberg. “Next year is a probable scenario. Their biggest obstacle was related to making transparent plastics and making them durable, which seems resolved by now.”

Indeed, aside from showing off fancy tech, Samsung will have to make a convincing case for a device that, in a way or another, aims to dramatically reshape the granitic concept of the rectangular slab we are all familiar with.  However, in all fairness, the Korean manufacturer has already tried — and, to a degree, succeeded — to do so, meeting high demand and almost universal praise with its Galaxy S7 edge; so much so that the company is seemingly applying the dual-edge technology to its beloved Galaxy Note line of flagship.

Apparently, “Project Valley” — the name under which Samsung is engineering both devices — may become reality as soon as 2017’s Mobile World Congress, with the company looking forward to launching either one or both smartphones by then.

The follow-up to America’s most loved phone is right around the corner, and Bloomberg’s report mentions that the rumored move to the Note 7 (and, perhaps, Note 7 edge) name may indeed be happening.

Do you like the idea of bendable or rollable smartphones, or do you think they are just a gimmick that will fade away regardless of its execution? Let us know in the comments below.

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