From flip phones to foldables, smartphone manufacturers have been attempting to move away from the plain old rectangle for a while now. One of the more curious new concepts we've seen recently is the 'rollable' – and it seems the first could finally arrive this year, courtesy of LG.
Revealed at CES 2021 yesterday, the imaginatively titled LG Rollable has a display that can expand from traditional smartphone size to something more akin to a small tablet. And best of all, there's not a hinge or folding mechanism in sight – the whole process looks like, well, magic. Could LG's latest end up rolling into our best camera phones roundup?
LG revealed very little about the device during its virtual CES 2021 (opens in new tab) presentation (below), but did go so far as to give us a brief front-on view of the phone at the very end of the event, demonstrating the rolling mechanism in action. And just like Oppo's rollable phone concept from last year, we still can't believe there isn't any CGI involved in the incredible 'stretching' motion.
If it's anything like Oppo's concept, the LG Rollable could use tiny motors to unfurl the screen, a little like unrolling a poster. The whole thing makes the best flip phones look positively prehistoric.
But while Oppo might have beaten LG to the first rollable reveal, it seems the latter could end up rolling the product out first (sorry). According to CNET (opens in new tab), despite only being glimpsed for a few seconds in the presentation, the LG Rollable is no mere concept. Indeed, sources close to LG claim it plans to release the phone "later this year".
Several phone companies are exploring the concept of foldable phones, from Samsung's ill-fated Galaxy Fold to Apple's intriguing foldable screen patents, but the rollable is much more uncharted territory. The benefits for creatives could be game-changing, though – users could literally unroll a larger digital canvas when required. It wouldn't be a stretch to imagine a rollable becoming the first smartphone to rival our best drawing tablets.
Time will tell whether, unlike foldable phones, rollables will prove useful and reliable enough to become the new normal. Until then, if you're looking for the latest and greatest smartphone tech, you can do much worse than Apple's iPhone 12 range – check out today's best deals below.