Samsung to sell phones with flexible screens next year

The Korean electronics giant said tablets to follow, as it announced strong profits at its mobile division.

Samsung Electronics is aiming to launch mobile phones with flexible displays next year, with tablets and other portable devices to have these displays soon after.

The company said it was aiming to follow on the success of its Galaxy S II smartphone, which has now sold 10 million units in five months.

The comments came as the company discussed its earnings for the three-month period through September. Samsung said its overall profit fell 23 percent from a year ago to 3.44 trillion Korean won (US$3.1 billion), dragged down by its chip and display operations, but operating profit at its mobile unit more than doubled in the period.

"The flexible display, we are looking to introduce sometime in 2012, hopefully the earlier part," said spokesman Robert Yi during an earnings call. "The application probably will start from the handset side."

Yi said tablets and other mobile devices with flexible displays would follow.

Samsung has shown flexible OLED (organic light emitting diode) displays inside rigid cases that kept the screens curved. The technology has material within each pixel that generates light, making it perhaps more suitable for flexible screens than LCDs, which would require both a flexible screen and a backlight.

The Korean company said its popular Galaxy S II smartphone continued its strong performance recently, and has now sold 10 million units in five months. The Android-based handset appears to have benefited from the October launch of the iPhone 4S by Apple, which has launched previous iPhone models in the summer months.

Samsung shipped 27.8 million smartphones in the third quarter, versus 17.1 million shipped by Apple, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. Apple's iPhone 4S appears to be raking in strong sales, however, and the company said it sold over 4 million units in the first three days after its launch on Oct. 14.

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