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The Unbreakable Phone: Flexible Screen Technology Could Save Billions in Phone Repairs

Aside from those ever-expanding screens getting closer and closer to the edges of the devices, there haven't really been that many exciting developments in the world of smartphone displays over the past year. Imagine a phone that could expand, becoming a tablet, or one that you can wear around your wrist like a watch. Offering great flexibility and – perhaps more importantly – durability, this technology could be worth billions in just over five years. 

A robust new technology

In 2013, warranty provider Square Trade conducted a study, which showed that UK-based iPhone and Android owners spent around £1.2 billion on repairs between 2007-2012. The most common cause of damage? Accidental drops. 

While traditional glass touchscreens have a tendency to break or scratch easily, malleable displays are highly resistant and can drop to the ground untouched. This state-of-the-art technology would give mobile users more flexibility, not to mention saving them hundreds of pounds in repairs. 

Three decades in the making

The concept of flexible phones has been around since the 70s, when the first bendable e-paper display was developed by research company Xerox PARC. Since then, billions of pounds have been sunk into researching and developing the technology, with little result. 

Fortunately, we've been witnessing more and more prototypes being produced by mobile phone manufacturers over the past couple of years. Could this be an indication that the arrival of this technology on the consumer electronics market is around the corner? 

A benchmark technology by 2018

Earlier this year, Samsung showed off a flexible prototype at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas, unveiling a phone that was made up of a small hard enclosure, with a paper-thin, bendable colour screen attached to it.

This raft of cuts to mobile roaming charges forms an integral part of Neelie Kroes' bid to create a single telecommunications market in the EU and to eradicate all roaming charges between EU countries by 2015. In May, Kroes promised that she would present a "strong package" of telecommunications reforms to the European Parliament this summer, in the hope that they will be adopted before next year's parliamentary elections.

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