Appearing so far only in a teaser video shown by LG at the CES 2021 show, the LG Rollable rollable screen phone has at least made it to prototype stage and would have had a chance at an official launch if the South Korean manufacturer hadn’t untimely decided to leave the smartphone market.
Conceived as an alternative to the foldable screen phones shipped over the past few years by Samsung and other industry players, LG’s rollable screen phone would have some important advantages, such as the absence of unwanted “creases” in the folding area and the ability to self-adjust to the type of content displayed. For example, the height of the screen can be adjusted to perfectly frame the video being watched on YouTube. At the same time, there’s no need for a secondary screen to supplement the foldable one, as the rollable screen simply becomes smaller or larger as needed.
Coming to the downsides, the prototype shown in the above clip has quite a long transition time when scrolling the screen, which cannot be said about foldable phones, whose screen can be accessed with a simple open/close gesture. Another aspect that seems to give trouble to engineers toying with the concept of rollable phones is the fragility of the rolling mechanism, with the LG Rollable prototype being particularly vulnerable to dust penetration and any deformations that could jam the high-precision mechanism. Another slightly noticeable issue with the prototype on display that has not been resolved by LG engineers is the tendency for “veiling” across the entire rollable portion of the screen.
The fact is that, despite the imperfect construction, the rolling screen phone that LG never got around to releasing is quite fascinating, and the innovation it brings is as real as it gets. For example, the screen isn’t hidden but rolled over the back of the phone, creating a second display on which you can keep track of notification messages, control the media playback function, and frame photos taken with the phone’s main camera, converted into a selfie camera. From the front, the rolled-up screen offers the full experience of a conventional smartphone, but without the compromise of extra thickness and weight. At the same time, the device at the prototype stage is already surprisingly thin and sleek, leaving us to only imagine how far LG could have gone with this product if it had continued on the direction it started last year.