Forget foldables, what about rollables?
At Mobile World Congress 2023, Motorola introduced a concept phone with a rollable screen that expands as you use it. Motorola teased its rollable phone last year, but now MWC attendees got an in-person look at how the phone works.
The prototype, that's an evolution of the Rizr series, is a compact five inches tall in its default state, reports Rita El Khoury in a hands-on story for Android Authority. The POLED display covers the front and wraps around to the bottom third of the back of the phone which also functions as a secondary display. By double-tapping the power button, a motorized mechanism starts rolling the screen upwards, expanding it vertically to create a larger 6.5-inch display. As the display rolls up, the screen seamlessly expands to show more content, as if you were scrolling down a page. Double-tap again, and the screen rolls back down. All in the all, the rolling takes only a few seconds.
There are also settings to configure how and when you want the display to roll out. Holding it vertically, the screen can roll up if you're writing an email. For watching videos, you can adjust the display so it automatically expands if you turn the phone horizontally. Turning the display back to vertical automatically rolls the screen back down.
It's just a prototype so there are definitely some issues Motorola has to contend with before — or if — it ever comes to market. Android Authority described the phone as a "hefty 210 grams," and the rolling mechanism is undoubtedly a drain on the battery. But if Motorola can overcome these challenges, it's a clever way of creating more screen real estate that might be more convenient than foldables.
Motorola's parent company Lenovo is also thinking about how flexible displays can improve user experience. At MWC, Lenovo unveiled a laptop prototype of the ThinkPad X1 Fold with the same rollable screen technology. The display in unexpanded form is 12.7 inches and 4:3 aspect ratio and expands to 15.3-inch screen with an 8:9 aspect ratio. The X1 Fold is expected to launch later this year.
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