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Bendable smartphones: Panasonic's new flexible battery may pave the way

It’s said that one day we’ll enjoy flexible smartphones rather than the solid bricks we use today, but in order for that to happen, there are a number of tech breakthroughs that we’ll need to see. For example, we’ll have to figure out a way to make batteries bendable.

Panasonic thinks it has come up with the solution. While still far from a consumer-ready product, the company has built a battery that’s 0.55-millimeters thick and able to bend as much as 25mm and twist 25 degrees. No, it’s not the foldable battery some were expecting, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Related: Panasonic unveils mirrorless G85, two advanced compacts at Photokina

Perhaps even more important than the fact that the battery can bend is that it can withstand bending while still charging and providing power — something that todays lithium-ion batteries cannot do.

While cool, the batteries have a long way to go before we’ll see them in our devices. Panasonic has only built batteries with between 17.5mAh and 60mAh capacities, so if they were to be implemented in a product today, they would really only be able to power extremely low-power smart textiles or smart cards. Still, Panasonic says that it intends to continue developing the tech, so perhaps one day we’ll see it inside a bendable smartphone.

“Panasonic’s new flexible battery can withstand bending and twisting beyond the Japanese Industrial Standards for identification cards,” said the company in a blog post. “When used in card devices such as smart cards and card keys that work on batteries, as well as body worn-devices and smart clothing, this battery can retain its characteristics even if the device is frequently bent or twisted.”

Panasonic isn’t the only company developing bendable tech — Samsung is thought to be prepping a commercially available flexible display at some point in 2017.