Why Your Next Phone Might Be Rollable

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'...

Key Takeaways

  • Manufacturers showed off rollable smartphones at the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show.
  • The bigger screen real estate offered by phones like these could make them a tempting purchase.
  • One rumor suggests the price of the LG Rollable will be a hefty $2,359.
Person watching LG's CES 2021 presentation on LG's new rollable phone

The rollable smartphones unveiled at CES 2021 could be an intriguing upgrade for users when they eventually make it to stores.

LG showed off its rollable smartphone, which has a display that extends to make a bigger, more tablet-like screen. TCL also teased its rollable concept phone, which can go from a 6.7-inch phone to a 7.8-inch tablet. The bigger screen real estate offered by phones like these could make them a tempting purchase.

"This design essentially allows you to keep a tablet in your pocket," Carl Prouty, digital content strategist and brand spokesperson of Abt Electronics, said in an email interview. "Having more screen real estate is great for anyone who multitasks on their phone. You can have a word document open on half the screen and a web page for research open on the other. Or you can use the full screen to watch a video when you're taking a break from work."

Big Screens, Little Information

Details about the new rollable phones are hard to come by. Both LG and TCL played coy with their designs at CES. LG showed videos of the phone, but didn’t give any product details. TCL also played a video in which Tiago Abreu, director of the "X-Lab" at the TCL Industrial Design Center, claimed the tablet can go from its remote configuration to its large shape with "a simple tap of the finger."

Some users say they would jump at the chance to buy a rollable phone. Jason Hughes, a self-described gadget enthusiast, said he’s on board with rollables. "I have this habit of buying newly released smartphones and testing, reviewing it for months, then I'll decide if I'll keep it or sell it," he said in an email interview. "I won't miss a roll-up smartphone; LG’s rollable looks promising."

Hughes said that a rollable phone could fit into your daily routine. "For those who are always on the go, who like to carry small bags only, or do not even want to bring a bag anymore, this is the perfect smartphone this modern era could offer," he added. "Its flexibility is [a] great asset among other types of smartphones. At first, you may get a little intimidated by how the screen folds, but the things you can do from its notable features are [pretty] amazing."

A Practical and Cool Design

The rolling design isn’t just eye-catching. It’s practical, as well, Prouty said. "Anyone who uses their cell phone for more than just calling can benefit from this style," he added. "Multitaskers will likely benefit the most as it offers more space to have extra information on the screen."

Foldable phones have made headlines in recent years, but they have suffered from questions about their screens’ durability.

"For practicality, it seems that the rolling style would be the better choice as the motion is a little easier on the screen, which could potentially translate to a longer lifespan," Prouty said. "In reality, it's a way for the manufacturers to show off their latest and greatest designs, so practicality isn't always the first consideration. The design presents more of a 'wow' factor than anything else."

Don’t expect rollable phones to come cheap. The folding variety of smartphones that have rolled out in recent years have seen sky-high prices. Samsung’s Z Flip started at $1,380, and Microsoft's Surface Duo sells for $1,400. It’s unlikely that a new category like rollables will be much cheaper.

In fact, one rumor suggests the price of the LG Rollable will be a hefty $2,359. The leaker also said the phone would be unveiled in March, but with the possibility of a delay until June.

I’m excited about a new type of phone design, whether it’s practical or not. The last year has brought so much bad news, it’s good to know that at least there’s a rollable phone in our future.

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