LG announced that they will launch the world’s first rollable smartphone this year, when they offered a sneak peek at the device at CES 2021 with a five-second teaser video.
The clip has a smartphone held in the horizontal direction when the screen rolls in from an extended form factor screen in a tablet to a more compact chassis.
The hybrid handset is said to be based on flexible organic light-emitting diode technology, allegedly supplied by China’s BOE Technology Group, although the details of the technology are unclear. Spoke at CES, the company said Nikkei Asia that the product will be officially released later this year:
“Our management wanted to show that it is a real product, as there were many rumors surrounding the mobile phone,” said Ken Hong, a spokesman for LG. “As it is released CES 2021, I can tell you that it will be released this year.”
LG’s scrollable screen follows moderate success with Samsung’s foldable smartphones, and comes when LG’s phone business is struggling financially due to fierce competition from the likes of Samsung, Huawei and Apple.
Apple has explored scrolling screens in the past, based on patents from the company. In March 2020, a patent granted to Apple appeared in the US Patent and Trademark Office describing an “electronic device with flexible display structures.”
The patent describes a flexible screen that can be wound around one or more internal roller mechanisms, so that the screen is extended out of the chassis. A rigid section remains to house the circuit boards and other electronic components, but with the addition of the rollable screen layers.
“Elongated bistable support elements can run along the edges of the screen or can be overlapped by a centrally active area of the screen to stiffen and support the screen in the extended position,” explains the patent, which perceives the technology as adaptable to everything from smartphone to smartwatch.
As with all Apple patents, there are no indications that Apple plans to bring such a device to market, but it’s interesting to see what kind of future solutions Apple looks at as it seeks to innovate beyond current consumer use technology.