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Bend it like Samsung: The first flexible smartphone manufacturer?

A report by Bloomberg suggests the electronics company may be ready to introduce two smartphones featuring bendable screens as early as next year.

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    Samsung President, W.P. Hong, takes the stage at CES 2016 to deliver a keynote address on the Internet of Real Things in Las Vegas in January.
    Isaac Brekken/AP Images for Samsung/File
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A new Bloomberg report suggests that Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., will soon introduce two new smartphones with bendable screens.

The technology company known for its line of Galaxy Android smartphones will reveal the new devices in time for the 2017 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, according to Bloomberg’s unnamed sources.

“Next year is a probable scenario. Their biggest obstacle was related to making transparent plastics and making them durable, which seems resolved by now,” IBK Securities Co. analyst Lee Seung-Woo told Bloomberg.

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The new devices would have screens that utilize organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology. One of the phones would feature an 8-inch screen and resemble a tablet, but can be folded in half to become a 5-inch handset. The other model would resemble a typical smartphone with a bendable body.

The bendable phones are currently being developed under the codename “Project Valley,” according to sources, and will not be released for sale under the currently active Galaxy S line.

Samsung’s integration of OLED screens and bendable screen technology by early next year would give it a head start against its main competitor, Apple Inc., and its line of iPhones that currently utilize light-emitting diode (LED) backlit liquid-crystal display (LCD) screens. Apple could begin using OLED screen technology later next year as well – and could have their screens supplied by Samsung.

The latest Samsung Galaxy smartphones and Galaxy Tab tablets already utilize an active matrix OLED display. OLED screens allow displays to be thinner, brighter, and more battery efficient than LCDs.

“This product could be a game-changer if Samsung successfully comes up with a user interface suitable for bendable screens,” Mr. Lee said of the Project Valley devices, according to Bloomberg. Samsung is already “the biggest supplier of OLED panels for mobile products,” and has already developed a uniquely variant smartphone screen with its Galaxy S6 Edge line, which features curved screen edges.

Bloomberg’s sources also said a new Galaxy Note “phablet” model could be on the way with a “Note 7” designation to bring it in line with the numeration of the Galaxy S series, which is currently in its seventh iteration.

A separate leak reported by VentureBeat writer Evan Blass via Twitter shows product images of a new model of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, which was previously revealed on the Federal Communications Commission’s website.

Samsung is not the first company to work on bendable screen technology, and has already shown prototypes of the concept itself, but no such device has yet come to market.

Samsung did not comment on the Project Valley rumors to Bloomberg.

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