Gadget enthusiasts might already know this, but Samsung has been working on flexible display technology for years. The Korean manufacturer showcased its flexible panels at trade shows in the past, but back then, the technology was in its prototype phase. Nonetheless, Samsung kept pushing through various technical and manufacturing difficulties, and the technology is now ready for the masses.
Based on previous leaks and rumors, the company was initially planning on introducing its flexible display on the Galaxy Note 3. This wasn’t the case however, and due to more production issues, the Note 3 was released with a much improved, yet non-flexible Super AMOLED panel.
Earlier this week Samsung introduced the very first smartphone featuring a flexible screen. The device is dubbed the "Samsung Galaxy Round," and aside from its curved design, it borrows many elements from the company's flagship phablet.
Samsung Galaxy Round – Hardware Specs
The Samsung Galaxy Round can be easily described as a top-shelve device. When it comes to sheer hardware specs, the handset in question is just as powerful as the Galaxy Note 3. It features a 5.7-inch Super Flexible AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 and a pixel density of 386, and it draws its processing power from a Snapdragon 800 quad-core CPU clocked at 2.3 GHz. There's also an Adreno 330 graphics chip on-board, accompanied by 3 GB of RAM.
The handset comes with 32 GB of internal storage, expandable by up to an additional 64 GB with the help of a microSD card slot. A 13 MP main camera resides on the back panel, delivering 2160p at 30fps and 1080p at 60fps video recording capabilities. The main camera is accompanied by a secondary 2 MP front-facing shooter. The Galaxy Round is being powered by a 2800 mAh Li-Ion battery.
Samsung Galaxy Round – Design and Software
The biggest selling point of the Round is not what makes it tick, but what's on the outside – the design itself.
The flexible display has allowed Samsung to create a curved smartphone, but in case you're wondering, this doesn't mean that the smartphone itself is flexible.
At first glance, the Round looks quite similar to the Note 3. It features similar design cues, right down to the faux leather and stitching on the back panel. However, if you were to look around the curved edge of the device, you'd notice that there's no stylus pen concealed in the case. Indeed, the nature of the flexible display has apparently prevented Samsung from adding an S Pen in the mix. That being said, claiming that the Round is simply a curved Note 3 is just not true.
This brings us to the software side of things. As most of you already know, the Galaxy Note 3 delivers Android 4.3 and the latest version of TouchWiz out of the box. Unsurprisingly, the same goes for the Galaxy Round as well. There are, however, a handful of key differences.
While the Note 3's TouchWiz UI delivers a wide range of software features, apps and enhancements that go hand-in-hand with the S Pen, the same can't be said about the Round. Evidently, these stylus-specific features are missing on the latter. Fortunately, the curved smartphone has its own aces up its sleeve, and offers several unique software enhancements of its own. These features make sense only on the Galaxy Round, due to its curved nature. For instance, while the device sits face-up on a flat surface, the user can tilt it on one side in order to briefly light up the screen and have a quick look at notifications and status. The same feature can be used while in the gallery or the music apps, and allows the user to scroll through photos or skip to the next audio track.
Of course, the majority of TouchWiz software enhancements that are available on the Note 3 are present on the Round as well. These include WatchON, Adapt Display, Adapt Sound, ChatON, Air View, Air Gesture, Smart Scroll / Pause and the list goes on. Samsung KNOX is pre-loaded as well.
Samsung Galaxy Round – Price and Availability
While the Samsung Galaxy Round is already available for purchase in Korea, the consumer electronics giant hasn't managed to give us any details concerning the handset's availability on an international scale. However, chances are that more details regarding the matter will be disclosed sooner rather than later. We're also unsure whether or not Samsung has any plans of building Exynos 5420-powered Round variants for the international market.
As far as pricing goes, the Galaxy Round is selling for 1,089,000 won in South Korea, which translates into roughly $1000. In other words, Samsung's first smartphone boasting a flexible display is not only similar with the Note 3 in terms of specs, but in terms of price as well.
Any thoughts concerning the Galaxy Round? Do you consider the selling point of this device to be a gimmick, or do you think that this type of technology is the way of the future and that many other manufacturers will adopt it? We should remind you that LG is also reportedly working on a similar device, called the "G Flex." Don't hesitate to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
Vlad Andrici is editor for gforgames.com and writes about technology issues. Follow Vlad on Google Plus.