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

LG can be rolled

Rollables represents the next development of smartphones.

Screenshot by Sarah Tew / CNET

This story is part of THESE, where our editors bring you the latest news and hottest gadgets from the all-virtual CES 2021


It may have been just a fleeting glimpse from LG CES 2021 press conference, but the teasing of a smartphone with a screen rolling out suggests a comeback for mobile devices that want to shake the conventional metal and glass slate. Despite the introduction of a few new folding phones in 2020 – especially the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold 2, plus the wider release of the Motorola Razr, only a few people wanted to spend as much as $ 2,000 in the midst of a global pandemic.

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At CES, phone screens roll out to table size


It’s 2021 and not much has changed. The hope, however, is that a rapid dissemination of the COVID-19 vaccine – still a big one, if at this point – can provide some normality in our lives as well as a renewed appetite and appreciation for more creative and dynamic phones.

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

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

TCL, which has shown several foldable prototypes over the past two years and which plagued several scrollable concepts on Monday, is finally releasing a foldable phone to consumers this year, according to Stefan Strait, general manager of marketing for the company. The most notable aspect is his goal of a $ 1,000 prize. This is in line with comments from Samsung last month about more affordable folders.

These collapsible and rollable phones are not just gimmicks meant to create some buzz. These new, experimental designs help move the industry forward when it comes to how mobile devices look and work in the years to come. Just as the iPhone got handsets evolving from flip and candy bar designs to sleek metal and glass plates, foldable can make a difference in how we interact with our phones. 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 initial burst of energy? Turn the clock two years back to 2019, and the collapsing hype was at 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 were supposed to increase in 2020 by more foldable.

We all know what happened next.

But the early activity at CES suggests we may be expecting more breakthroughs this year.

A development from foldable

LG rollable phone screen harkens back to Signature LG OLED R, the scrollable TV that has been a highlight of the last few CES LG conferences. It’s impressive to use flexible screens in a large 65-inch television, but it’s another challenge to squeeze the technology into a handheld phone.

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

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

LG is not the only one thinking about rollables. TCL’s display business also showed two rollable concepts, one a smaller phone with a screen that extends upwards to 6.7 inches in portrait mode and the other a 17-inch screen that unfolds from both ends like a treasure map.


This far-out concept tablet looks like a treasure map that you unfold from both sides.

Screenshot by Sarah Tew / CNET

TCL is not close to starting a scrollable phone. Strait said in an interview prior to the show that the company was still working on refining the mechanics of its prototype.

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

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

While not a huge hit, it is pushing the industry in a different direction.

Make folding more accessible

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

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

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

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TCL shows new scrolling phone and scrolling screen …


Similarly, Samsung hinted at even more folders in 2021.

“Z Fold2 was praised as a smartphone that imagines what’s possible with mobile technology, and I’m excited to say it’s just a touch 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.

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

The breadth of the foldable phones that are coming suggests that this will not just be a showpiece or toy for one-percent people, and we may all be able to get a taste of where phones are heading over the next few years.

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