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SAN FRANCISCO — The smartphone industry has been searching for a breakthrough to revive a market mired in an innovation lull and a sales slump.

A potential catalyst is coming with the introduction of phones featuring flexible screens that can be folded in half without breaking. That feat could make the devices more versatile for work and pleasure, by increasing screen space without making phones too big.

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On Wednesday, Samsung provided a glimpse at a foldable-screen device that it will release next year. It's expected to compete against several other flexible-screen phones.

But it's unclear whether the flexibility will have mass appeal, especially when the bendy devices are expected to cost more than $1,000.

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