Popular smartphone brand Oppo has unveiled the prototype for a potential game changer in a device category that’s only a couple of years old.

You’ve seen the impressive foldable smartphones from brands like Samsung, Huawei and Motorola.

Their huge price tags and bleeding edge technology make them status symbols as well as boosting productivity and content consumption with the ability to convert into a bigger screen.

But who has the time or the energy to manually unfold their smartphone?

Not Oppo customers. That’s why the company has built a prototype for a new kind of variable display size phone that magically expands to become the size of a small tablet.

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Rather than unfold the phone yourself, motors inside the device expand the screen size for you.

The lock button powers the whole operation.

When the phone is locked it’s inactive so it doesn’t accidentally slide open in your pocket or bag.

Swipe down on the lock button and the screen unfurls with a gentle whirr, expanding into the size of a small tablet.

Swipe the other way and it slims down to its original size (which is still pretty big).

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The motors provide a bigger wow factor than the manually operated foldables that Samsung and Motorola offer, and could set the standard for what this category of phone could look like in the future.

Early foldable phones haven’t proven themselves to be the most durable, so brands are now sure to extensively test their hinge and folding mechanisms to make sure they’ll stand up to use and keep dust and debris out.

Oppo’s mechanism has been tested in the lab more than 100,000 times, roughly equating to 15 movements a day over a five-year period.

You’ll probably open and close it much more than that, at least for the first few weeks until the novelty wears off.

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The rollable style Oppo has shown off also provides less prominent “seaming” than on manual foldables.

Foldable phones – which clearly now need a more encompassing name since some of them roll now – use plastic OLED screens that allow them to flex and contort.

They feel a little different from the glass in your typical smartphone and parts around the hinge can sometimes have a wrinkly seam or two that you just have to look past to have a really cool smartphone that turns into a tablet.

The company also used it to show off a wireless charging feature that doesn’t even require it to be placed on a pad, and it somehow keeps charging an arm’s length away from the charger.

Oppo’s rollable phone is still a prototype and we don’t know when it will be on the market, if ever.

If it does, it’s expected to range in price between expensive and stupidly expensive – so best to start saving now.



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