Foldable phones, the ones with actual flexible and foldable screens, tickle the imagination and spark fantasies. The reality, unfortunately, is that the thing that makes the screen flexible is the very thing that also makes it less durable, at least from scratches. Samsung has definitely improved its foldable display since the disastrous days of the first Galaxy Fold but things might start to get even better now that Corning, makers of the much-touted Gorilla Glass, is reportedly involved.
Samsung’s very first foldable phone used a plastic-like Polyimide (PI) substrated as the protective cover for the flexible OLED panel. In addition to being fatally mistaken for a simple screen protector, the material was also prone to scratches exponentially more than glass would have been.
The problem with glass, at least the strong scratch-resistant type like Gorilla Glass, however, is that it is unyielding. That’s why Samsung Display partnered with German company Schott to use the latter’s Ultra-Thin Glass or UTG to give the Galaxy Z Flip and now the Galaxy Z Fold 2 a more durable foldable screen. But even as these two are working to improve that material, Samsung Electronics’ mobile division has reportedly joined forces with Corning to do the same.
It’s not unusual for the company to source components from rivaling suppliers, even if it means competing with its own sibling companies, just like the Qualcomm Snapdragon and Samsung Exynos divide. It will be interesting, however, to see what Corning will be able to bring to the table. Although considered a world leader in durable but rigid glass, it is considered quite late to the party when it comes to foldable glass.
Samsung will definitely need all the help it can get in this area if it wants to trump all competitors in the foldable and dual-screen phone fields. In addition to price, the Galaxy Z Fold 2’s disadvantages include concerns about the screen’s long-term durability and its usability with a stylus, something that a foldable UTG with Corning’s name could help resolve.