A new type of smartphone display panel made by Samsung Display has passed a series of durability tests in the U.S., which saw it surpass standards set out by the Department of Defense. Samsung calls the panel “unbreakable,” and has huge ambitions for it in the near future.
It’s made up of a flexible OLED screen with a plastic substrate window bonded to it, resulting in a far tougher combination than the glass-and-OLED screens we see on most devices today. While smartphones will be the primary use — because we’re all a bit clumsy — Samsung Display also expects to use the panel in educational environments, cars, and military situations.
What did the screen withstand? The tests were carried out by product safety experts at Underwriters Laboratories (UL), where it passed a 1.2 meter drop test 26 times in succession with no damage at all. It then went on to complete a 1.8 meter drop test, and passed through high and low temperature tests. The results mean Samsung Display’s panel easily passed the military standards the UL utilizes.
In a video released by Samsung Display, the unbreakable panel also survives various hammer strikes, which isn’t something we’d recommend replicating on your own glass phone. Despite the obvious toughness, Samsung Display notes that the panel still has the same visibility offered by glass, along with the same light weight.
The benefits of a super tough plastic panel that still operates like glass are obvious. When we drop our phone, it won’t be the sound of a massive, impending bill we hear when it hits the ground. We can go out and buy tough phones that do this now, but they don’t look like the Galaxy S9, which is why we probably won’t. Remember though, the UL test is a lab test, rather than one carried out in everyday situations, meaning results may vary once we try one out on a phone.
While Samsung Display is justly proud of its unbreakable screen, it hasn’t offered any information on when it will go into production, or when it will be used on a device we can own. It’s possible the panel may be used on forthcoming phones like the Galaxy S10, or Samsung’s rumored Galaxy X flexible phone; but until Samsung announces it will be using Samsung Display’s special panel, we won’t know for sure.