- Samsung has filed patents for a transparent smartphone.
- The device in question would sport a transparent display with opaque bezels.
If you thought Samsung‘s foldable phone ambitions were wacky, you may want to think again after patents emerged suggesting a transparent smartphone could be in the works. The patents, which were filed in January but only surfaced in August, describe the complicated steps and technologies required to create a transparent phone.
Each pixel on the phone’s display would allow light to pass through it, effectively rendering the screen transparent. In Samsung’s patent drawings, that transparent screen resembles a window through which the holder’s hand can be seen. Only the bezels seem to be opaque.
The patents were spotted by Dutch tech blog LetsGoDigital which also provided a mock-up of the device in question. We’re not sure how this could be useful to anyone other than chronic screen peekers on public transport, but it would be a great marketing tool.
Dreams of transparent phones aren’t new. LG had a crack in 2009 with the GD900, but it only featured a transparent keypad. Sony Ericsson followed up with the Xperia Pureness which, to its credit, did feature a transparent display. It wasn’t very good though.
Samsung has developed transparent OLED displays in the past, but these were mainly used for signage. In a smartphone, where space for hardware is limited, the tech gets a little more complicated.
The company would need to find a way of housing the battery and other components so as to not interfere with the transparent display, or somehow, make those elements transparent too. It’s a problem that was demonstrated by Taiwanese firm Polytron Technologies‘ transparent phone in 2013. The SD card and ribbon cables were still visible, despite the phone’s largely transparent body.
These patents rarely develop into mainstream devices, so don’t expect Samsung to launch a transparent Galaxy S or Note series shortly. But the search for the next big smartphone innovation is taking companies to extreme, if not impractical lengths.