The LG Rollable can go from this… [credit:
CES is very often the home of vaporware product demos, and that certainly seemed to be the case when LG briefly teased a rollable-smartphone prototype, called simply “LG Rollable,” during its press conference. Pie-in-the-sky flexible display prototypes have been a regular fixture at CES since 2008, after all. After the main press conference, LG Electronics President and CTO I.P. Park said of the device, “We’re hoping to see it out in the market early this year.” Not just this year, but early this year? OK LG, we’re listening!
Like concepts that have already been shown off from Oppo and TCL, a rollable phone works kind of like a paper scroll, where two halves would be pulled apart to reveal more of the flexible screen, which can be hidden in the body of the phone. LG only showed a combined 10 seconds of the LG Rollable to start and end its press conference, but the footage shows a phone with two sliding halves and a “growing” display. It looks exactly like the Oppo and TCL designs, except—allegedly—it will be a real product.
From what we understand about rollable phone design, the display is connected to the bottom of the phone, then it rolls around the top half and into the back of the phone. As the motorized top section rises out of the phone, it pulls out more of the display from the back. Most people are accustomed to perfectly flat, hard-glass displays, but the plastic, flexible displays we saw in early, flexible smartphones had almost no rigidity on their own. In a rollable phone, most of the rigidity looks to be from the tension the rolling mechanism puts into the display. The Moto Razr flip phone works on the same principle: opening the phone pulls a sliding, floating display tight over a back panel, sort of like a drumhead.