The Pixel is now rumored to be the next phone up in line to be getting a curved display. ET News just reported that Google is in talks to invest $875 million (KRW 1 trillion) in LG Display to give their next-generation Pixel 2 smartphone some curves around the edges.
According to Bae Ok-jin at ET News, Google wants to secure a stable supply of flexible OLED panels from LG Display, which would reduce the company's need to depend on Samsung Display. The "flexible" aspect is key here, as traditional OLED panels are somewhat rigid, whereas the flexible type could allow Google's next phone to have a display that partially wraps around the sides of the device.
Samsung Display is currently making OLED displays for the next generation of iPhones, as well as for its own Galaxy S8 and S8+. Moving away from Samsung could potentially allow Google to ensure that enough stock is available to meet demand for its upcoming Pixel 2 smartphone.
Ok-jin reports that the negotiation is not only a purchase deal for some screens, but a strategic partnership between the two companies to ramp up screen production. With Samsung currently being the primary OLED screen maker for phones, the display panels lack the supply needed to meet demand. If the deal between Google and LG Display can be met, Ok-jin says, "Google will secure priority and stabilize panel supply and demand."
Last year, Google released its Pixel phone in two variants with 5-inch and 5.5-inch OLED screens on both. The phone received rave reviews, but its manufacturer, HTC, could not keep up with demand, and ultimately, the phone was pretty much impossible to score until a couple months ago.
You can order a Pixel from the Google Store, but even now, only some variants of the Pixel XL are available for purchase. The 5-inch Pixel is currently out of stock. According to Ok-Jin, a shortage of OLED panels were the main reason for the Pixel shortage, a problem that Google is looking to tackle by negotiating with LG for a handle on the display market.
Looking even further down the Pixel roadmap, LG has been tipped as the front-runner for a contract to handle the manufacturing of Google's Pixel 3 smartphones, which are slated for release in late 2018.
The manufacturing company is carefully considering Google's proposal. One trillion won is what would be needed to produce displays for the Pixel. The company, according to Ok-jin, is also looking to move towards the OLED trend, focusing less on creating the once-popular LCD displays.
The Pixel 2 is said to be hitting stores in late October of this year. The smartphone will come in two variants with the codenames "Muskie" and "Walleye."