So Samsung’s curved smartphone is coming: is it me, or is this getting silly?

GPO rotary phoneWatch this space: as if a new Note tablet and Gear smart wristwear weren’t enough, Samsung has confirmed that its next smartphone, to be launched next month, will be curved.

You know, just like phones used to be.

Well, if the curve thing works for TVs, why shouldn’t it do the job for phones, too?

Actually, has it worked for TVs? Think that one should be put down as a yes and no: after all, I don’t know anyone who’s been hankering for a TV with a concave wraparound screen.

NEC CRV43I can see the appeal of the idea – and indeed monitors like this 43in from NEC – for those who need multiple displays before them.

You know,  city traders and the like – and of course those who feel the need to have more than one screen on their desk, which they probably refer to as a workstation or something similar, as a sign they’re really, really busy and really, really important.

One screen just can’t keep up with all that’s in their brain – that’s the message they’re trying to give.

However, for watching TV or movies, I just don’t get it.

I mean, the use of such curved screens in the cinema and the like worked because the screen was big enough to fill the field of vision, creating that ‘draw you into the action’ effect. However, even the largest of the curved screens so far announced aren’t going to pull off that trick – well, not unless you sit almost uncomfortably close to the display.

Samsung curved TV

What’s more, in a conventional family set-up, with chairs gathered round the TV as once we huddled to the hearth, some viewers are going to see a very distorted view, or even just the back of the edge of the panel closest to their seating position.

Well, they will unless everyone sits well back from the screen – which kind of defeats the purpose.

Samsung Galaxy GearSo when Samsung president DJ Lee anounces, as he did yesterday in Seoul at one of several global launch events for the Galaxy Note 3 tablet and Galaxy Gear smartwatch (left), that ‘We will introduce a curved display smartphone in October’, the crux of the statement is in the timings.

Especially when he adds, to emphasise the point, that ‘Regarding the specifications of the product, we will have another time to talk about that.’

In other words, it’s really exciting and it’s coming soon, but we’ll keep you guessing for now.

The first, the best, the largest…

You see, both Samsung and LG like to be able to claim they have the first this, or the largest that – for example, we had the unedifying spectacle of the two vying for firsts and largests at CES 2013 at the beginning of the year, almost as if they each had a team of engineers snaffled away in a Las Vegas backroom, ready to knock up a prototype to counter whatever the other announced.


The race left the traditional big hitters of the TV world, the Sonys and Panasonics, doing little more than floundering in the Koreans’ wake.

But then the point about being the first, or promising something to better to come, isn’t too unlike the ‘drip drip’ leakage of seemingly well-sourced information about Apple products, which I discussed in an earlier post.

It’s all done to create disruption, to stall the opposition by creating doubt in the mind of the consumer.

After all, you know and I know that curved screens are just a gimmick, but in the eye of the early adopter, who must have the latest thing, they could just be enough to set your purchase apart from the TVs everyone else has.

You may have been the first of your mates to have a big flat screen on the wall, and then the first with 3D – whatever happened to that? – but now everyone has big flat tellies, and you can pick up a 50in model for £400 or so, what better than a curved screen to set you apart.

Never underestimate the marketing potential of selling someone a product to have all their friends saying ‘Ooo, what’s that?’.

Not just curved, but…
So, curved smartphones it is, apparently; and if that’s not enough to keep the Samsung name front and centre on the tech geek websites for the next few months, there’s apparently a rumour that the new phones will be not just curved, but – whisper it – flexible, too.

Actually, don’t whisper it too softly: there’s big money riding on that rumour.

So brace yourself for an onslaught of visualisations, speculation, informed leaks, analysis…


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