Way back in 2011, there were rumors that the Apple iPhone 5 would get what was probably the world's first curved glass touchscreen. It didn't, of course: The iPhone 5 and the iPhone 5S, which launched earlier this fall, both arrived with regular old-fashioned flat displays. But that doesn't mean that you can count out the idea of a contoured glass screen just yet.
On Wednesday, Samsung, Apple's biggest rival, took the wraps off the Galaxy Round, a smart phone/phablet with a gently-undulating 5.7-inch display. As Britta O'Boyle of Pocket-Lint notes, the Round appears very similar to the Galaxy Note – same camera, almost exactly the same build (give or take a couple tenths of an inch), same Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, and same quad-core 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor.
The difference, of course, is that screen. Samsung says it offers a "a comfortable hand grip feeling," and it will probably fit more comfortably in the pocket of your trousers. There are also apparently some technological/functional benefits from that curved glass, although they appear pretty minor. Here's Samsung, from the press release:
As a result of its unique curved design, users can take advantage of round integration experiences like the Roll Effect that enables user to check information such as date, time, missed call and battery easily when home screen is off, and the Gravity Effect for creating visual interaction with the screen by tilting the device.
The Gravity Effect thing isn't further explained, so we can't help you there – we'll have to wait for a fuller explanation from Samsung (preferably one that's free of tech gobbledygook). But the Roll Effect refers to the ability of the phone to turn on if the user depresses one corner of the device and "rolls" it toward or away from them (video here).
For now, the Galaxy Round is available only in Korea, in a color described by Samsung as "Luxury Brown." It remains unclear if a larger global launch will follow.