Electronics giant LG is fast becoming a company that constantly defies the odds when it comes to design of their gadgets. The company doesn’t shy away from going against the grain with its phone designs. Following last year’s quirky T-shaped LG Wing, the company’s latest design uses a flexible screen that expands to tablet size by unfurling rather than unfolding.
The company had teased the phone a couple of times before, but an LG spokesperson today confirmed that the device unveiled at CES will be one that people can actually buy later this year.
Called the LG Rollable, it provides the functionality of a folding phone, without the crease. One can also imagine it being capable of a few things folding phones can’t do, such as adjusting its size to perfectly match a video’s aspect ratio — no letterboxing required.
“Our management wanted to show that it is a real product, as there were many rumors around the rollable phone,” says an LG spokesperson in a statement. “As it is released at CES 2021, I can tell that it will be launched this year.”
It is also reported that LG is working with China’s BOE Technology Group on the rollable screen technology. LG has not yet confirmed what display tech the Rollable is using, or any details on the different display sizes.
To be fair, LG isn’t the first to show off this kind of device; TCL demonstrated a similar concept early last year, but nothing has being heard about it since — like if it will ever actually be released.
There are a few immediate concerns about this design that come to mind. Displays with this degree of flexibility still require a plastic screen, which means it will almost certainly be prone to scratches. So while you lose the crease of a folding phone, you also don’t get the built-in screen protection of something like a Galaxy Fold or Moto Razr.
That then begs the question of what a protective case might look like. It would have to expand as widely as the phone, which would require some sort of complex accordion-like or multi-layer design.
In other words, we have no idea how practical such a device will be in real life, but we’re curious to see how LG tries to make the concept work. It’s nice to have phones that are different from your typical slabs of glass, for a change.