Motorola just announced a new concept for a rollable smartphone with a screen that expands and contracts with the press of a button. The company demonstrated the device at Lenovo Tech World, and it’s the latest example of how tech companies are experimenting with ways to push the modern smartphone forward.
Lenovo’s rollable phone concept has a 5-inch screen that can extend to 6.5 inches when unfolded. That makes it more compact than even the iPhone 13 Mini when in its small mode, and almost the same size as the iPhone 14 Pro Max when fully expanded. The company has no plans to release the device yet since it’s just in the concept stage.
The announcement comes after Motorola announced the third-generation Razr in China in August. Prolific smartphone leaker Evan Blass had previously reported that Motorola was in the early stages of developing a rollable smartphone, as he posted on the blog 91Mobiles in May.
Motorola’s approach to rollable smartphones differs from some of the other concepts we’ve seen so far. Companies like Samsung and TCL, for example, have developed concept devices with screens that expand horizontally rather than vertically to switch between smartphone and tablet mode. But with its concept, Motorola aims to provide a smartphone that can switch screen sizes depending on the situation rather than developing a smartphone-tablet hybrid.
But it will likely be a while before you’ll be able to buy a rollable phone, similar to the way companies like Samsung showcased foldable phone concepts years before the first Galaxy Fold arrived. But Ross Young, co-founder and CEO of Display Supply Chain Consultants, thinks rollables could address some of the shortcomings of today’s large-format foldables like the Galaxy Z Fold line.
“I think the rollable concept has a lot of potential to replace that book-type device in my mind because it’s going to be a lot thinner,” he said in a previous interview. “And it should be a lot lighter.”
Although Motorola’s first foldable Razr received plenty of attention when it launched in 2019, Samsung is the industry leader when it comes to foldable phones. Samsung accounts for 62% of the global foldable phone market, while Huawei landed in second place with 16%, according to Counterpoint Research. That same report also suggests the market for foldable phones is expected to grow by 73% in 2022, indicating that consumers may be growing more receptive to phones with screens that can bend, fold and eventually roll.