Samsung flexible OLED prototype phone shown off at CES

Samsung has shown off its flexible OLED phone prototype at CES in Las Vegas, along with a working screen that can be rolled like a bank note, showing us that the company's efforts in flexible screens is edging ever closer.

The devices - unexpectedly whipped out on stage by Brian Berkeley, senior vice-president of Samsung Display, at the company's keynote address on Wednesday - are a prototype phone and a paper-thin display that can be rolled up into a complete circle. The screen continued to present changing images even while being handled.

"Imaging the products you could design with this," said Berkeley. "It's only going to get better.

Samsung also showed off a 5-inch, 16:9 ratio touchscreen that curves around the edge of a phone-like device.

The unnamed device is currently just a proof of concept and can't really do anything apart from show that it works and that the screen bends around something, but it is still very exciting.

What for, or why we need a curvy design hasn't really been worked out yet, it seems. Samsung is using the extra edge to show notifications when in landscape mode but that to us isn't something we're crying out for.

Flexible displays are expected to become mainstream in a couple of years, driving a new category of wearable devices, but whether we need it on a phone is yet to be seen.

As you can imagine, Samsung isn't telling us when the flexible OLED tech will become a reality in our pockets, but Microsoft has said it's working to get the display running its Windows Phone 8 software. Think Samsung Galaxy S V or maybe even as far out as the SGSVI.

We'll keep you posted.