Foldable phones were mostly created to solve a size problem. People want large, tablet-sized screens but don’t want to lose the portability and handiness of a handheld device. You might think that foldable screens from Samsung, LG, Huawei, Motorola, and Royale might be the only answers but TCL is coming up with a rather intriguing alternative. Instead of folding a flexible display, TCL is showing off one that rolls in and out instead, creating what is pretty much the electronic equivalent of paper scrolls.
The biggest problem foldable phones have, aside from the durability of the materials used, is that flexible screens can’t really fold flat, requiring a bit of a curve that, in turn, produces a gap when the device is folded shut. Not only does this invite particles to get into the gap, it also makes for a less than perfect-looking foldable device.
A rollable display fixes this problem by not folding the screen at all. More like a scroll than a book, Such a screen expands by unfurling and shrinks by rolling the screen into a part of the device. LG already employs this technology on its rollable TVs, now available commercially, but TCL might be racing to bring a smaller, pocketable version to the market.
Ross Young shares a video from @Fold Universe where TCL shows off its various rollable display phones, including one where a 4.5-inch phone unrolls to have a 6.7-inch screen. Like with foldables, rollables also come in two designs that roll up into a taller phone or roll out into a tablet.
Don’t, however, hold your breath for such devices to come this year, especially since the cycle for 2020 smartphones is pretty much over. There is, however, a chance they might be coming soon, next year at the earliest if TCL is already showing off working prototypes at this point.