LG teases phone with rollable screen at virtual CES 2021

Korean tech giant LG is the first major vendor to promise a smartphone with a rollable screen.

Flexible screens have been the holy grail of smartphone innovation since the current form factor became ubiquitous over a decade ago. The past couple of years have seen the emergence of the foldy phone, but they don’t seem to have captured the public imagination.

Now the next phase of form factors enabled by flexible screen technology concern rolling it up and unfurling it when you need that extra bit of screen real estate. Under normal circumstances CES and MWC would see a raft of smartphone launches but we’re not allowed to have any fun this year. While MWC has moved to the summer in the hope that life may have returned to something approaching normal by then, CES is currently underway entirely in virtual form.

In practice this means individual vendors investing in their websites to create ‘virtual experiences’. LG has done a decent job on its one, but YouTube still seems like an easier place to find out what it’s announcing. One video demonstrates a rollable OLED TV screen, which can flap back into its housing at the flick of a switch whenever you feel the need to reveal the bit of wall that was behind it.

The rollable screen phone doesn’t get its own video, or even any formal acknowledgement, but if you persevere to the last few seconds of the press release vid, you’ll see a handheld device that magically changes shape before your very eyes. LG clearly wants to bring attention to it because the above photo is one of only three it supplies with its main CES press release.

Other than that, however, LG is remaining tight-lipped on the matter. Cnet seems to be the journalistic site with the best insight into the matter, claiming the device will go on sale later this year. While we remain open-minded, it’s hard to see this form factor appealing to the mainstream any more than foldy phones have, not least because it’s bound to be really expensive. Fair play to LG for rolling the dice though (geddit?).

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