We got an exciting glimpse of the forthcoming LG Rollable smartphone at CES 2021. The video (linked below) showed a large smartphone held in landscape view rolling out and expanding to a tablet-sized screen. This is an innovative alternative to some of the folding smartphone designs we’ve seen so far, and it could be a big, much-needed hit for LG’s mobile division when it lands, expected later this year in at least some markets.
Smartphone displays have grown in size steadily for years now, but manufacturers are bumping up against the limit of what can comfortably fit in your hand or pocket. This has led to a new wave of innovation sparking fresh designs that allow for pocket-sized devices with expandable displays. Samsung has been quick to dive into the foldable market, but alternatives to folding designs have been few and far between, mostly falling into the concept phone category.
Details on the LG Rollable are scant, but an LG spokesperson told Nikkei that it is a real product and will launch sometime later this year. Reviewed reached out to LG directly and received only a rather ambiguous statement: “LG Rollable was previewed at CES 2021. Stay tuned for more details on LG Mobile’s exciting 2021 portfolio.” That said, if anyone is going to release a phone with a rolling display, we would bet on LG—after all, the company already offers a rollable OLED TV.
While foldable phones are still in their infancy, there’s room for a fresh approach to tackling the problem of how to make smartphone screens bigger without sacrificing their mobile nature. A rollable design that effectively transforms a device from smartphone to tablet could be the answer. As exciting as this prospect is, there are a lot of unanswered questions, not least the prospective price of such a device, which is likely to be high (Samsung’s folding phones are very expensive).
If you want to see it in action for yourself, here’s a shortcut to the tail end of LG’s CES 2021 press conference on YouTube.