Could Samsung's Curved Smartphone Change Everything?

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samsungcurvedPhoto: Courtesy Samsung.

Welcome to the maybe-future of the the cell phone. With Samsung on a continual quest for global mobile domination, the company made an announcement late yesterday confirming rumors of what may be the next big thing for phone makers. It's called the Galaxy Round, and it is the only curved phone in existence. Its subtly curved display and back promise “exclusive experiences,” according to the company's press release. One of those is the "Roll Effect," in which users gently dip their phones toward them to "check information such as date, time, missed call and battery easily when home screen is off." Watch a demo of the effect here to see what we mean.

There are no real surprises on the inside, though the Round does pack some serious guts. The phone runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with a 2.3GHz quad-core processor. For storage, customers can take their pick of either the 32GB or 64GB model. It also includes a 13-megapixel camera on the back and a 2-megapixel lens on the front. Want a curved phone? You'll have to head to South Korea. Samsung is only releasing the Round there, with a price tag not yet announced.. It will launch in "Luxury Brown" (a phrase never before spoken in the history of the world) with more colors to follow.

It's worth noting that Samsung apparently has a crush on the curve. At CES this year, another "world's first" curved product — the OLED TV — was unveiled. (Unfortunately, LG released its own "world's first" curved TV at the show, too. Awkward.) And even though Samsung handily has the largest market share in mobile phones, it still must compete with Apple's sexy brand cachet, which was able to sell out its stock of new iPhones almost instantly, thanks to some gold and a fingerprint scanner.

But you might be asking yourself, "Why curved?" Sure, it's more ergonomic in the hand, but do accelerometer-enabled gimmicks like the Roll Effect improve usability? Probably not, but that's missing the point. Curved AMOLED screens are a major technological breakthrough for consumer tech, and uses will be found. Our field of vision is curved, which is why IMAX feels more immersive (though we're not suggesting scale doesn't play into that, too). And that could be it — a curved screen might not be the game-changer that the mobile market needs. But a decade ago people didn't think phones needed cameras or complex operating systems. Remember, the iPhone is barely six years old. Give it time to get its legs. (TechCrunch)