LG: We can’t do much more with smartphone form factors

Despite having recently unveiled the LG G Flex 2, one of the biggest advancements in handset design in recent years, LG has remained sceptical on where smartphones can move next.

Speaking with TrustedReviews recently, the Korean manufacturer has claimed technologies tipped to revolutionise the mobile market – such as transparent displays and foldable panels – are too expensive and restricted for mass production devices.

“I don’t think we can do much with form factor beyond this at this moment,” Ken Hong, LG’s Director of Corporate Communications told us.

Speaking at last month’s G Flex 2 unveiling he added: “The design of phones is restricted by the technology of our component suppliers, so now we can only do what they can create, and they can’t even do very many of the [G Flex 2].”

Highlighting the struggles of turning tech advancements into consumer facing products, he stated: “I’ve seen the transparent displays. I’ve seen the flexible displays. I’m sure they can make a good phone with them at a rate of one per day. It’s just not a commercially viable technology at the moment.”

So, does that mean LG will be resting on its smartphone laurels? Don’t count on it.

“When you push hard enough you get results and with 60 companies under the LG umbrella, we’re likely to come up with something cool to do before someone else does,” he told us. “We don’t necessarily have to have an order put in for us to develop something new. We’re willing to develop something new, like OLED, look at all the money we’ve put into OLED, without a single order.

“We’re able to take those risks and make those investments as a larger company.

“Unlike a start-up which needs a business model already in mind, we develop first and innovate first and then find a way to commercialise it.”

Discussing some instances where LG has put this big-business mentality to work, he added: “We’ve done that with bendable batteries and curved screens and, to a smaller extent OLED which wasn’t our invention but we’ve commercialised it.”

While the next evolution of smartphone form factors might not be heading to market anytime soon, Hong has suggested truly bendable phones might be a feasible reality one day.

“I don’t think in 2015 you’re going to see too much in terms of innovation in smartphone design other than maybe colour or what have you,” he said.

“Two, three years down the line, however, you might actually have a phone that bends to a greater degree.”
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