At CES 2021, LG captivated us with a short teaser of his innovative rollable concept phone. Unfortunately, the company closed its smartphone division, and with it, plans to launch its rollable screen phone were also frozen for good. However, the LG Rollable has now been detailed in a video, complete with market-ready retail packaging.
It appears that the phone was unceremoniously canceled right on the cusp of a public launch, which is a shame and a huge loss for phone enthusiasts. The LG Rollable had a lot going for it. The top and bottom edges have rail-inspired sliding mechanisms that extend/reduce the bezel to reveal/hide additional screen real estate.
When the LG Rollable is used like a regular phone, the expandable portion of the screen that wrapped around the edge and covered just over half of the rear panel was blown out. However, if you flip the device over, it can be turned on and used like a normal display, albeit with limited functionality, such as the Samsung Galaxy ZFlip 4.
With the rear of the screen activated, the doomed LG phone also offered users the flexibility to use it as a viewfinder to click selfies using the high-resolution rear cameras. The idea is reminiscent of Huawei’s Mate X series foldable phones.
APPARENTLY, LG wasn’t a fan of a notch, holes, or ugly floating cutout for the front-facing camera array, either. Instead, the selfie camera is neatly tucked away in the top left corner of the frame, offering a truly full-screen experience.
On the back, the roll-up segment blended in almost seamlessly with a raised rib that houses the dual selfie camera and fingerprint sensor just below it. The biometric hardware is the trusty round sensor, rather than the narrow pill-shaped, side-mounted fingerprint sensors on modern phones.
There appears to be some sort of pressure or light sensor on the right edge that triggers the screen’s rocking and unrolling behavior. The mechanism appears to be quite sturdy, enough to move a couple of thick books as the screen unfolds.
However, a three-finger swipe from the left to the right edge, or vice versa, would also do the job. It also looks pretty clean and almost perfectly executed by LG’s engineers. Additionally, there’s a one-touch quick toggle button system that can be accessed by swiping in from the right edge to do the same.
As the screen slides open to reveal a tablet-like extension, the user interface elements also expand accordingly. For example, the Settings app seamlessly expands to a two-row format, a design element Google showed off with Android 12L. LG also appears to have created a side panel-like system that we see in Samsung’s One UI skin, allowing users to access their favorite apps and tools in a jiffy.
The display in its natural state is a 6.8-inch unit, but when deployed it offers a tablet-style 7.4-inch panel. The lights are kept on by a 4,500mAh battery, but there’s no room for wireless charging due to the design.
The aspect ratio is on the higher side at 1.5:1, which is a far cry from the boxy approach taken by the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Oppo Find N. But the tall aspect ratio in the LG Rollable it is also quite advantageous, because letterboxing is minimal while watching videos, and the situation with games would also be more palatable.
Specs-wise, the rear camera setup includes a 64-megapixel main snapper capable of capturing 8K video, alongside a 12-megapixel ultra-wide shooter. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 keeps it going in tandem with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of onboard storage.
Tipping the scales at 285 grams, the LG Rollable fell into the same weight class as the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. Going by the level of software finesse and the solid hardware of the engineering prototype, it seems that the LG Rollable was rejected in the last moment.
Oppo is currently working on the same formula, but its own version of the concept got stuck in quality evaluation hell after showing it off to journalists and releasing some tantalizing teaser videos.