Here's Who Benefits From the Rise of Curved OLED Smartphones

To say the past few months have been eventful for Universal Display (NASDAQ: OLED  ) investors seems like one heck of an understatement.

The stock skyrocketed after it crushed earnings expectations in August, then plunged in September after a sustained negative campaign from noted short-sellers. What's more, July and August marked the first respective commercial rollouts of Universal Display's OLED technology in large-screen curved televisions from LG Display (NYSE: LPL  ) and Samsung.

And if you were excited last week when Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Round -- its first smartphone to feature a 5.7-inch, curved OLED screen -- you're gonna love this.

On Sunday, the folks over at Engadget say they received leaked images from an anonymous source of a new curved smartphone made by LG Display, aptly dubbed "G Flex" and apparently pegged for release sometime next month.

LG Display stock, Universal Display stock

Image source: Engadget. 

In contrast to Samsung's Galaxy Round, which has a curve running from side to side, LG's G Flex boasts a more exaggerated curve that runs from top to bottom. That said, like Samsung, LG Display confirmed last week it has started mass producing six-inch flexible OLED displays, so the G Flex isn't entirely surprising. 

So far, LG Display hasn't provided any details on pricing or additional functionality the curved display affords consumers -- at least apart from its nifty aesthetic appearance. Meanwhile, Samsung has confirmed its expensive phone -- which will retail for around $1,000 -- will boast a few quirky features enabled by the Galaxy Round's curved screen, including the ability to check items on the welcome screen by simply rolling the phone toward yourself.

But as I also noted last week, that certainly won't be enough to make expensive curved OLED phones fly off shelves. You can bet, however, both companies will be able to offer reduced price points as they increase their efficiency in mass production. After all, that's the exact same reason Samsung was able to lower prices for its curved 55-inch OLED televisions by more than a third in August.

The best has yet to come
But down the road, consumers can also look forward to seeing more tangible benefits of OLED technology come to fruition. Remember, I pointed out way back in February that the South Korean government chose LG last year to spearhead an effort to create a commercially viable 60-inch, flexible, semi-transparent OLED television by 2017. As it stands, given their progress in OLED tech to date, I'd be stunned if we don't see such a product finished before then.

What's more, LG Display recently confirmed it's already mass producing curved batteries -- necessary to accommodate the design of its G Flex phone -- and is also working on commercializing new flexible cable-style batteries, which could open up a whole new range of complementary design possibilities for OLED electronics.

Most important to investors, however, is that both LG Display and Samsung largely owe the success of their respective OLED technologies to Universal Display, which not only licenses its OLED patents to both companies but also sells them a large portion of the host materials necessary to build OLED displays in the first place.

In the end, these are just a few of the reasons why I'm holding on tight to my own shares of Universal Display, the one company that stands to benefit no matter whose OLED devices win.

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