Here's Our First Look At Motorola's Rollable Smartphone Prototype

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After Steve Jobs unveiled the first-generation iPhone in 2007, most smartphone brands worldwide quickly adopted the flat, candy bar style as the form factor of choice for their devices. Given that this was the only form factor that allowed companies to equip smartphones with large touchscreens, most smartphones sold between 2007 and 2019 more or less conformed to this basic design philosophy. As a result, smartphones in this era typically consisted of a large, dominant display adorning the front and a large rear panel that usually housed the rear-facing cameras.

In 2019, when Samsung announced its first-generation foldable smartphone, it was the first time that consumers were exposed to an entirely new form factor in more than a decade. The foldable display on the company's Galaxy Z Fold devices gave users a new way of interacting with smartphones. As consumer interest in foldable phones spiked, smartphone brands began toying with even more form foldable designs — resulting in the comeback of the flip or clamshell form factor.

Besides these two form factors, Korean consumer electronics major LG considered making a smartphone with a rollable screen. However, before they could launch the device, the company shuttered its entire mobile division. Fast forward to 2022, and there is renewed interest in the foldable form factor after Motorola hinted at the possibility of coming out with its rollable smartphone soon.

Motorola's Rollable phone prototype: What we know so far

Lenovo, the Chinese company that owns Motorola, recently held a virtual tech expo called Lenovo Tech World '22, where it gave consumers and analysts a glimpse into the future of Lenovo's future products. Among the products discussed at the event included a rollable concept smartphone designed by Motorola engineers. The device showcased by Motorola is a super pocketable device that stands a little over 4 inches tall. When the display is completely unrolled, the device transforms into a smartphone with a much larger 6.5-inch panel — the standard size for most candy bar-styled smartphones sold today.

Motorola revealed that its concept smartphone could be used in three different states: extended, compact, and peek. All three states could be invoked by simply pressing a button on the device itself. Motorola also showcased an early prototype of its rollable phone in action. In the video, Lenovo Executive VP Luca Rossi is seen holding the phone and demoing how the rollable display expands, and the on-screen content dynamically adjusts itself. Motorola's blog post showcasing the rollable smartphone concept also talks about a rollable laptop PC concept that uses similar technology to give users access to larger screen real estate without needing an additional monitor.

Motorola's concept devices with rollable displays are still in their prototype phases. While the company didn't give a time frame for these devices to make it into production, given the rapid advancements in the foldable OLED displays sector, we could see these devices in the hands of consumers within the next couple of years.