We’d all love to have a phone with a screen as big and clear as a laptop – but it must still fit in your pocket. There have been many attempts at roll-up, fold-up screens, and they’ve all been dismal disappointments.
Now there’s an entirely new approach that seems to break the rules of optical physics. Samsung’s Galaxy 14 has a 4-inch screen; but when you turn it on, a 12-inch image of the screen appears above your hand; and it’s crisp and square.
This magic is performed by a new nanotech device called a meta-lens. Although completely flat and smooth, at the nanoscale the screen bristles with tiny fins that direct the light to a specific focal point, creating a solid-looking giant ‘screen’ that you can tap or swipe at will.
Discovered in 2016, meta-lenses were first engineered to make flat, thin camera lenses, and zoomable contact lenses. This is the first time they have been employed to project an image, rather than capture it.
The result is stunning; a pocket sized device with a virtual screen the size of a magazine – with no distortion or added weight. And if it’s just too big for you, don’t worry; the zoom button lets you shrink it all the way down to its native size.
“This is the biggest thing in screens since LED,” says Samsung’s Alex Chang, “but you’d need a microscope to see it!”