Lenovo shows off rollable phone and laptop concept designs

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,582   +174
Staff member
Forward-looking: Leading tech providers around the globe have invested lots of time and money into next-gen display technology, and Lenovo is no exception. On Tuesday during its Tech World 22 virtual event, Lenovo executive Luca Rossi showcased two proof of concept devices featuring rollable OLED screens. The first was a rollable smartphone concept from the team at 312 Labs, Motorola's internal R&D group (Lenovo bought Motorola Mobility from Google for $2.91 billion in 2014).

The concept builds upon the display and mechanical innovations featured in Moto's foldable devices, but with a twist. At rest, the handset's display measures just over four inches tall and is described as extremely pocketable. With the press of a button, the screen expands vertically to 6.5 inches, making it ideal for media consumption, web surfing and gaming.

Rossi also shared a rollable laptop concept that expands vertically to take multitasking, browsing and mobility to new heights. Both are still in the early concept stage, but the potential for something special is certainly brewing.

Motorola's decision to have the phone's screen expand vertically rather than horizontally like we saw on the canceled LG rollable phone is arguably the best implementation of a rollable display to date. I do wish Rossi would have shown the sides and back of the device to get a better idea of how thick it is and how it works. Above all, it looks practical and that is more than you can say about most devices with flexible OLED panels.

As for the laptop, I believe a horizontally-expanding screen would have been the better route. Having the panel extend vertically is not going to appeal to everyone and I have concerns about it becoming top-heavy when fully extended. A display that stretches out to one side – or heck, make it expand from both sides simultaneously – could really help boost mobile productivity.

Here's to hoping Lenovo and Motorola continue to innovate on these concepts and eventually land on something worthy of bringing to market.

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DSirius

Posts: 380   +801
TechSpot Elite
Impressive and finnaly something innovative. Quite different than overhyped "innovations" like rounded rectangle, big ugly notch surounded by "Dynamic Island" and other gimmicks of Apple PR.
BTW did you know that Apple pretended on the trial against Smasung that they "invented" rounded rectangle on smartphones?
 

MakeMSGreatAgain

Posts: 66   +57
It is cool but there needs to be a huge benefit in order for everyone to really be on the bandwagon. A 1/3 increase in the size of the display just isn't gong to cut it for mainstream. We have a long way to go before the tech has advanced enough to provide a large benefit over static sized displays.
 

Geralt

Posts: 1,320   +2,149
No thanks, with a normal phone is enough. I don't want to fold it, roll it and so on. Just keep it straight and stop inventing expensive things nobody needs to look innovative.
 

p51d007

Posts: 3,434   +3,112
It is cool but there needs to be a huge benefit in order for everyone to really be on the bandwagon. A 1/3 increase in the size of the display just isn't gong to cut it for mainstream. We have a long way to go before the tech has advanced enough to provide a large benefit over static sized displays.

Yeah, 1/3 increase in screen size, but probably double the price.
 

zulu53

Posts: 196   +72
Yes, innovative (I.e. something done in a new way - use of flexible OLED screen in a new way). Is there a benefit - it can be clearly seen from the phone - quick glance to full read in one motion; clearly a benefit when the phone is used as intended (pocket to hand). Will the cost match the benefit - that's a different question, and clearly one that will need to be answered. The "folding" screen concept is not working out because of its prohibitive cost penalty - can this concept do better? Perhaps if it is not a "motorized" extension as the demo seems to imply; but rather done using the persons fingers? Micro motors are not cheap and drain batteries like crazy.
 

dangh

Posts: 856   +1,450
I like it. It is surely early stage, but I'm happy to see where we're going with foldables. This is a future and if we end up with some sci-fi options to unfold a small mobile into a laptop then what to not like about that?:)
Still initial cost of this technology will be huge, but that's how innovation is made.
 

Nobina

Posts: 4,051   +4,720
If we get to a point where you can roll your phone like a joint I still think while it might look cool it's ultimately not very useful. You can save some space in your pockets, that's about it. Just imagine the amount of money smartphone manufacturers will ask for a gimmick like this.