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Foldable and foldable phones give us something to look forward to in technology



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Rollables represents the next development of smartphones.

Screenshot by Sarah Tew / CNET

This story is part of CES, where our editors will give you the latest news and the hottest gadgets for the completely virtual CES 2021

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It may have been just a fleeting glimpse from LG CES 2021 press conference, but the plague of a smartphone with a screen that rolls out, suggests a comeback for mobile devices that want to shake up the conventional metal and glass slate. Despite the introduction of a few foldable phones in 2020 – especially the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold 2, plus the wider release of the Motorola Razr, few were in the mood to spend as much as $ 2000 in the middle of a pandemic.


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It’s 2021, and well, little has changed. The hope, however, is that a rapid dissemination of the COVID-19 vaccine – still a big if at this point – can lead to some normality in our lives, as well as a renewed appetite and gratitude for more creative and dynamic phones.

Because let’s face it, we can all use something to excite ourselves again.

LG did its best with its pea the first day at CES. It was the second short title, this time that gave the name of the device, the LG Rollable on the nose. Oddly enough, LG executives did not even mention it during the press conference – glimpses of the phones were seen in fast promo wheels that started and ended the event – but it’s real and coming this year.

TCL, which has showcased several collapsible prototypes over the past two years and teased several rolling concepts on Monday, will finally release a collapsible phone to consumers this year, according to Stefan Strait, general manager of marketing for the company. The most notable aspect is the goal of a price tag of $ 1,000. This is in line with comments from Samsung last month about cheaper folding.

These folding and rollable phones are not just gimmicks that are meant to generate some buzz. These new, experimental designs help bring the industry forward in terms of how mobile devices look and work in the years to come. Just as the iPhone made handsets evolve from flip and candy bar designs to sleek metal and glass plates, collapsible sparks can change the way we communicate with our phones along the line. Lower prices mean that these phones are somewhat more accessible to people.

“Form factor innovation is definitely a feature,” Ronan Dunne, CEO of Verizon’s consumer business, said in an interview Tuesday. He did not comment on the LG Rollable, but noted that he was “very impressed” with some of the innovations that came down the line.

But can that voltage match the first burst of energy? Turn the clock back two years to 2019, and the collapsible hype was on fever. Samsung started things off with an early look at the Galaxy Fold, followed a few days later by Huawei’s Mate X. Motorola ended the year with the Razr. Things should increase in 2020, with more collapsible.

We all know what happened next.

But the early activity at CES suggests that we can expect more breakthroughs this year.

A development from collapsible

LG rollable phone screen harkens back to Signature LG OLED R, the rollaway TV that has been a highlight of recent CES LG conferences. Using flexible screens in a large 65-inch TV is impressive, but squeezing that technology into a handheld phone is another challenge.

“I can not help but marvel at the technological innovation that comes with these,” said Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC. “It says a lot about screen technology and their resolution that can be hidden in such a flexible form factor.”

While LG provided little information about the phone, revealing the name of the device suggests that it is ready to go ahead with the product. Rollable will mark another radical change in design over even the foldable phone and show that the industry still has some new tricks up its sleeve.

LG is not the only one who thinks of rolling things. TCL’s display business also featured two scrollable concepts, one a smaller phone with a screen that extends up to 6.7 inches in portrait mode and the other a 17-inch screen that unfolds from both ends like a treasure map.

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This remote concept board looks like a treasure map that you unfold from both sides.

Screenshot by Sarah Tew / CNET

TCL is nowhere near launching a mobile phone. Strait said in an interview prior to the show that the company was still working on refining the mechanics of the prototype.

Samsung reportedly also has its own scrollable prototype, according to ET News (via Tom’s guide), and Oppo unveiled a scrollable concept called Oppo X 2021.

Despite the pandemic, LG did not stop experimenting last year, when it was released in the fall LG Wing, a strange phone with one screen stacked on top of another, capable of swinging to a horizontal position, and essentially creating a T-shaped screen. As unusual as it sounds, CNET editor Lynn La said that it actually helped with multitasking and video recording.

Although it was not a big hit, it pushes the industry in a different direction.

Make folding foldable

After many years of teasing wild prototypes, TCL is finally ready to enter the collapsible game. While the company was mum about folding during the CES presentation, Strait said the company plans to release one this year at the $ 1,000 price point.

“We are 100% convinced that this can be very disruptive,” Strait said in an interview with CES.

As a result, Strait said the first collapsible would use more of a conventional design than the wilder concepts we’ve already seen. It suggests a design like a flip phone, which we have seen from Samsung and Motorola. Such devices come in at lower price points than larger phones with expandable screens such as the Galaxy Z Fold 2 or Huawei Mate X.


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Similarly, Samsung hinted at even more folders in 2021.

“Z Fold2 was hailed as a smartphone that imagines what’s possible with mobile technology, and I’m excited to say that it’s just a hint of what’s coming as we continue to explore, develop and expand this category-changing space,” said TM Roh, president of mobile communications for Samsung, in a blog post.

This is in line with an ET News report that Samsung has four folders coming this year, including two variants each of the Flip and Fold lineups.

The breadth of folding phones suggests that this will not just be a showcase or toy for one-percent people, and we may all get a taste of where the phones are headed in the coming years.


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