Samsung announces 'unbreakable' OLED displays for phones

Most of us know all too well the frustration that comes when a momentary slip up results in a smashed screen for your expensive smartphone — not only is it massively inconvenient, it's also often costly to repair. 

Thankfully, that dreaded experience could soon be a thing of the past, with Samsung announcing the certification of new flexible OLED smartphone panels that it's claiming are "unbreakable". 

Certified by UL (Underwriters Laboratories), which is the official testing company for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor, the new panels were repeatedly put through a punishing real-time durability test based on military standards. 

The new panel was developed using an unbreakable substrate and, in place of traditional glass, has a fortified plastic window securely adhered to it. According to UL, it managed to survive 26 drop tests from a height of 1.2 meters (around 4 feet) and came away completely unscathed from the ordeal. 

Drop it like it's hot

“The fortified plastic window is especially suitable for portable electronic devices not only because of its unbreakable characteristics, but also because of its lightweight, transmissivity and hardness, which are all very similar to glass,” said Hojung Kim, general manager of the Samsung Display Company's Communication Team.

Later, the panels were dropped from heights of up to 1.8 meters (6 feet) and still continued to operate normally with no evident signs of damage.

Along with its impact tests, the new panels were subjected to extreme temperatures, ranging from a high of 71C (159.8F) to a low of -32C (-25.6F) while still continuing to function normally. 

At present, there's no word on how soon these displays will arrive to market — it might be too soon to feature in next month's Galaxy Note 9 unveiling, though the South Korean manufacturer could have something special in the works for next year's Galaxy S10 range.

Stephen Lambrechts
Senior Journalist, Phones and Entertainment

Stephen primarily covers phones and entertainment for TechRadar's Australian team, and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming in both print and online for over a decade. He's obsessed with smartphones, televisions, consoles and gaming PCs, and has a deep-seated desire to consume all forms of media at the highest quality possible. 

He's also likely to talk a person’s ear off at the mere mention of Android, cats, retro sneaker releases, travelling and physical media, such as vinyl and boutique Blu-ray releases. Right now, he's most excited about QD-OLED technology, The Batman and Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga.