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Are curved, flexible smartphones the next frontier in smartphone innovation? LG and Samsung really want to make it so.

Both companies are weeks away from announcing smartphones with curved displays, whose plastic substrate should make them more durable and cheaper to produce.

LG said today that it’s already started production of its flexible displays, which could appear in a phone called the “LG Flex” as soon as November.

The move is important for the company, which has resorted to shifting around its phones’ volume buttons in an effort to differentiate itself from the competition.

Unfortunately for LG, however, Samsung’s efforts at a curved smartphone are a bit further along. The company confirmed today that it plans to release curved device in Korea as soon as next week.

Reports so far point to the device being a slightly retooled version of the Galaxy Note 3 called the Galaxy Round. Samsung already hinted at what such a device could look like with the Samsung Youm concept phone, which you can see in the shot above.

But while both companies are making a lot of noise about their curved smartphone ambitions, neither has answered the more important question: What’s the point of a curved smartphone in the first place?

With its televisions, LG said that curved displays made it so that “the entire screen surface is equidistant from the viewer’s eyes, removing the problem of screen-edge visual distortion and detail loss.” We’re still not sure if there’s a similar benefit to bringing the technology to smartphones, but we’ll see what LG and Samsung say once they announce their devices in the coming weeks.

Curved smartphones may end up being a gimmick, but that doesn’t mean consumers won’t end up buying them.

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