Foldable phones were all the rage last year. Samsung started things with the original Galaxy Fold, but let̵
The difference between foldable and rollable should be clear in the name. The first is something you fold to make a large device smaller (or a small device larger). That could be a tablet-to-phone for factor or a flip-phone to a slim smartphone form factor. Roll labels, however, unwind the screen in a ‘rolling’ action. When you put it away, the screen rolls up into a hidden compartment.
Roll from phone to tablet with LG
LG’s shot came in two blink and missed moments during the CES press conference video. About two minutes later, the camera zooms in on a pair of hands holding what looked like a generic smartphone in landscape position. But then the screen expanded upwards to get a more tablet-like look. Later, just as the press conference ended, the video reverted to the rollable phone and the screen rolled in to revert to the smartphone format.
The device, which is called the LG Rollable, is from LG’s Explorer project. It is the second device in the project, following LG’s Wing. While we don’t know much about the Rollable, such as specifications or pricing, the company has confirmed that it plans to release the device sometime in 2021. We want to try the device before recommending it. however.
A rollable scroll from TCL
TCL took the time to show two rollable concepts. The former works somewhat like LG’s view of a phone getting bigger. But instead of holding it sideways and watching it grow to tablet proportions, TCL’s prototype grows up in the standing position. It initially looks like a short smartphone and expands into a regular smartphone size. That might make it more pocketable.
The second is not a phone at all. If you can imagine the classic roll, with a long piece of paper rolled up around two batons, you’re on the right track. TCL’s concept video shows a man walking through the forest and pulling out a scroll-like device. He rolls it out to reveal navigation instructions, information about the area and, for a brief moment, an incoming call. That last part showed a phone-like screen in the center of the screen.
But both devices are just concepts for now. TCL appears to have working prototypes of the latest “scroll” device, but it is a long way from what we saw in TCL’s demonstration video. TCL, for its part, says it plans to launch retractable devices sometime in 2021, although it has not said when or if these would be these examples.
When we see these devices in the air. While LG and TCL both say 2021, that doesn’t mean you want to buy one right away. All you have to do is look at the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 to know that sometimes waiting is better.