With the announcement of the LG Rollable phone and the Oppo X 2021, it looks like the next generation of smartphone technology is moving away from foldable phones and into rollable phones. These designs will take the concept of transforming phones to the next level.
Both of these devices expand horizontally into a mini tablet to give users a larger screen to make playing mobile games, watching videos, taking photos/videos, or multitasking a better experience.
We’ve seen foldables come in reality over the last few years, but there were a few problems with them. One of them being a visible crease where the display folds in and out. They’ve tried to reduce it as much as possible but from certain angles or tin the right light it is still noticeable. Another problem is the hinge mechanism which could allow particles to enter the device and break the screen or internals. Though there are ways of ensuring no dust or dirt can get inside, it can get add complexity to the already very intricate hinge mechanism. Finally, the biggest problem with foldables is the thickness of the device when folded. It’s like having two phones in your pocket, which is heavy and bulky. If they can make it thin enough, maybe it won’t be an issue, but it comes at the cost of features like the Surface Duo or Neo that had to make sacrifices to make it super thin.
The main advantages of a rollable device, is that there is no added bulk, no crease, and no chance of particles getting inside. What are the downsides? As far as I know, it comes at the cost of the selfie camera. The increasing need for more display real estate made companies pursue a multitude of ways to shrink the bezels and put the camera in different configurations from notches to punch holes, to pop-ups to in-display cameras. But does anyone really need one. Why not just use the bigger, better rear cameras? Then either those can flip up or there is a second display on the back of the device.
Other foldables like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and the Motorola Razr fold along the the X-axis like the old clamshell phones from the 90’s and early 2000’s. What if the claotosmshell form factor merged with the rollable form factor to create a vertical rollable smartphone? A small device that can extend its display for games, videos/photos, and web browsing but it can shrink down to a small square that is more compact and manageable when its not in use.
Here’s the concept design: