Vertical Rollable Smartphone Concept

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.

LG rollable phone: Everything we know so far (Feb. 22) - Android Authority

OPPO X 2021 – Rollable Concept Handset | OPPO Global

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:

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Although I find this concept interesting, there are two issues why I don’t think this would be possible any time soon. First issue is amount of space for internal components, with current technologies, it would be hard to fit any battery there whatsoever.
Second issue in my opinion is missing selfie camera. It may not be so important for tech enthusiast, but especially now during pandemic, many people have video calls, either because of work, or because of school, some using phones. And not having selfie camera could also limit market of such a phone when not talking about tech enthusiast, as many potential customers, especially the younger ones have use case for selfie cameras, either vlogs, just selfies, instagram streams, and few other things.
Flipping camera would take up even more space and durability, and screen on the back large enough also would be hard to achieve
I think that doing what’s possible to keep the selfie camera there in some form could be quite beneficial, and worth losing the small part of internal space decreasing battery little bit.
However in this form factor, I do not think there is enough internal space to make it work. Removing selfie camera but adding micro sd tray and jack does not help that much. As the rolled display will take up some space too, I do not think it would be possible to make such a device with some battery without removing all the ports, relying on esim and wireless charging, and maybe even digital buttons to save as much space as possible, and camera most likely also would have to be small.
I think that this is also the reason both LG and OPPO rollable both roll horizontally, so have at least as much internal space as normal phone. With good specs, I do not think this is possible yet. Maybe if solid state batteries get into mass production one day, it would be possible, but now.
Just for reference, iPhone 12 internals.

Summary

Battery barely, if even takes up half of space, and considering this would have to be shrunk in half, and added space so it can roll, I do not think there would be any way to have battery even without cameras.

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Yes, I agree that it is not possible to have a smartphone in this form factor at the moment. Removing the USB C port, headphone jack, SIM card/MicroSD tray, speakers, cameras, buttons, and have a smaller battery might allow it to have enough space for it to work. For now, it’ll be a phone for the future.

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The other massive issue with rollable that you haven’t mentioned is the fragility of the display. I know some foldables were outer (Mate X), but even they have moved to inner folding devices. Anyways, until the glass technology gets to a point where the display is both scratch resistant and rollable the jury is out for me.

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I have found this idea very interesting, even though I did not think it would really be possible. Although it would require compromises, mainly larger size, one backwards facing camera, and smaller battery, it could be possible. It would however would be quite hard to manufacture and especially repair. Started with looking at sizes of usual components, and it looks like with stacked 3d mobo, it could be possible to fit everything, even if SoC would require slight under clock because of heat.

Here is the concept, made it on paper for now, as it is just a first version, may move it to some software then.


Creative Commons License
Green goes for side mounted pcb and wire connecting it, while black color is just layout, blue are the sliding sides that can expand, yellow is thicker walls on structure, to make sliding mechanism work, and be secure.

Also, this is how the sliding mechanism would look with device unrolled:

Mobos:

  1. This mobo has top parts on it, mostly just cameras, top mic, speaker, display connector, slider connector and few parts controlling it.
  2. Stacked mobo, with SoC, storage, ram, modem, and some other parts, also connection to bottom part of left slider, and connected to 3rd mobo.
  3. Power management, port, bottom microphone and speaker, sim tray, and something like Taptic Engine.
    There is also pcb on left slider part, in green color, connected with wires, also green to PCBs 1 and 2. It is main function is varying signals over from pcb 1 to 2, but also has buttons on it.

Parts:

  1. Battery, not sure about how many mah could it be, dimensions: 40.47,5mm
  2. Speakers, 20.5mm each
  3. Microphones, 3.5mm each
    1. Port, maybe USB C
  4. , 6. - springs pushing at the slider parts.
  5. Front facing camera, most likely punch hole, 5.5mm
  6. Touch buttons, 8* only work when unrolled. Top button also has fingerprint identification.
  7. Backwards facing camera, 10.10mm max housing size
  8. Micro SIM, maybe also microsd tray.
  9. Connection of slider to 1st mobo.
Function of springs

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Springs put force on sides, making it harder, as to unroll, which may be positive, as there should be some force and it should not be that easy. It also causes sides to click into place when device is unrolled, and when you want to roll it again, you need to put pressure on sides, so you can roll it back. This is another positive, as it makes device not roll itself, and require something to be rolled.

Size Rolled: 82,5.70mm
Size unrolled: 145.70mm
Top part: 10.70mm
Bottom part: 72,5.70mm
Slider extending part: 62,5mm

Unrolling mechanism: Display is attached to top, and roller is located at bottom, so most likely small chin is there too.

Back side not solved yet

Sides - are inside, when unrolling, and completely unrolled, sides get pushed by springs, to now align with normal sides. To roll back, sides need to be slightly pressed.

Notes

Rollable part is not centered, to make the device possible. This means that phone will not have venter of weight in center when unrolled. This may not be issue while holding phone vertically, but horizontally it can be issue.

Durability of display and sliding mechanism is unknown

Battery may not be enough for all customers

No idea how would the extending of back side of the phone work yet, it most likely would not be as complex as sides, that could actually be durable, and not instantly get damaged while falling as some force would get absorbed by springs.

Side touch buttons are only accessible while phone is unrolled.

This would most likely require custom port, that would be very slim but could be bight wider. Usb C may, but I doubt it would be possible. Size of Lightning port or smaller would be required

Most likely wireless charging would not be possible too

Possibility of overheating, chips most likely would have to be ubderclocked

Requirement of stacked pcb, overall it may be too complicated to produce for smaller companies.

Size unrolled could be easily expanded to 150-155.70mm

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Ok, while doing some research I came across this video. Apparently TCL is working on a rollable smartphone that looks exactly like the concept device I envisioned. Looks like they beat me to it! Now I’m still wondering how they are going to make it a reality, because apparently this form factor is not feasible to make right now. Their concepts are incredible! Their other concept device unrolls like a scroll into a 17" tablet! Very interesting tech!

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We can put a small camera on it’s upper body: that way you can unfold the top while having a viewfinder at the lower part of the body.

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The problem when it comes to developing a phone is after 6 months since release there is a possibility it is already “outdated”. Also with the amount of development a phone can also take the software side of things is so important, and just the software can take a few years even with open source software available to help the progress along.

I bring this up, because the software would need to be developed along side of design, and the design will constantly need to change until the software is ready. With new hardware always coming on to the phone market.

Very difficult to compete in the phone market, but if something up to date, and cool came to the market with very little software bugs. This could be a good product. Just something to consider with your concept.

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Components of a Rollable Smartphone and How It Will Work

Display-flexible OLED can be rolled up like a scroll to shrink a display when not in use. It can also transform from a phone into a tablet at the press of a button.

Smartphones with rollable displays: The next big evolution? | NextPit

Flexible OLEDs (FOLEDs) - Universal Display Corporation

Flexible glass can protect the screen and give it a better touch experience and can be used with a stylus.

Graphene battery - Thinner, lighter, safer, faster, cooler, and lasts longer

Graphene batteries are finally ready to land in smartphones - Gizchina.com

Cameras - Single lens with flat lens with variable focus. Selfie camera in front bezel. No camera bump.

Speakers - Vibrating OLED display and one bottom speaker for stereo audio.

Buttons- Virtual buttons that can move with the phone when it expands and shrinks. Haptic vibrations can give physical feedback when pressed.

Get Ready for More Phones With No Buttons | WIRED

Charging- Wireless charging. No USB C port. Wireless charging can be just as fast as wired charging, from 50 to 65 watts which will allow for fast charging for phones to go from 0-100% in just 20 minutes.

OnePlus 9 Pro will reportedly support 50W wireless charging (pocketnow.com)

Connectivity-eSIM, Bluetooth 5.2, Wifi 6E, NFC, 5G/6G. No SIM slot

Telink | What You Need to Know About Bluetooth® Version 5.2 (telink-semi.com)

Storage-512GB of onboard storage + up to 1TB of cloud storage. No microSD slot

Memory-8GB of RAM

Security-Face unlock, fingerprint scanner, password

Chip Design-Complete SoC like on the Apple Watch. Sliding components are stacked in a 3D configuration.

Rollable display mechanism

Screenshot_20210314-163820_Chrome

Updated Concept:

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Update: Added a USB C port for wired charging/data transfer, and to connect wired headphones via USB C DAC. Changed the thickness of the bezels and changed the look of the cameras.

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My previous phone (Razer phone gen1) I used wired headphones, with the TYPE C to aux cable supplied. After much use the cable eventually broke. I tried to replace on Amazon without much research, and bought a product that was very similar in design, but did not work.

I personally prefer an headphone jack on phones, but I do understand reasonings for not including it. The headphone port is very niche these days, but something I personally prefer. As long as you provide a cable from USB-C to AUX I’m sure this will be fine.
Most people will use an headphone port on their phone in the the car these days with an aux cable.

Bluetooth/wireless ftw (yes I was once cool :joy:.) at the gym.

One of the major issues with using the USB-C port for headphones, and charger is that it if in use for headphones/aux the port starts to wear out a lot quicker. So eventually the port will need replacing/fixing.

Edit: It’s ironic that manufacturers started not developing products without aux, because TYPE-C could give a better output for headphones, but very few manufacturers develop headphones to utilize the benefits of using TYPE-C.

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It took how long to develop(?) the Duo? Hardware, software re still works in progress, will we ever see the Neo?

I think one of the things that should be incorporated is a USB-C port that allows a user to use an adapter to listen to music via wired headphones and charge their device simultaneously.

I was surprised that my phone (and its previous older brother) did not allow that. Sure, there were products that could be bought after market that ‘supposedly’ allowed it, but for the most part those were hit and miss.

Having the guarantee that this would work OOB would be good.

I need to read back through the entire thread, so I’ll have a few more comments to contribute in the coming days on this subject.

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