Folding screens are the latest trend in phones right now. From the slow, problem-marred release of Samsung Galaxy Fold this year to the recent unveiling of the clamshell-folding Motorola Razr, plenty of companies are looking for innovative ways to pack more screen into smaller devices. Thanks to a recent patent leak, we can reveal that electronics manufacturer LG might have found a very different method – one it already uses for TVs.
Dutch news outlet LetsGoDigital reports that LG registered a product design this year with the World Intellectual Property Office for a mobile phone, which was published on November 15. Based on the description and product images, LG has been working on a phone that can be pulled to "extend" the screen rather than fold it, turning a conventionally-sized smartphone into something approaching a tablet.
The technology relies on a flexible rolling screen, which would make the middle portion of the device extraordinarily thin in "tablet mode", and the phone itself very narrow, possibly even narrower than some of the 21:9 Sony Xperia models, in "phone mode". The device is shown as practically bezel-less with large two portions at the back, presumably to store the screen in addition to its hardware.
Rollable, flexible screens is something LG has previously pioneered in its OLED TV R 65R9, a TV that 'rolls up' into its coffee table base. If the above patent (and images) are representative of something LG is actually working on, this could mean LG has taken the technology and miniaturised it for handheld use.
LG has already been looking at the names Flex, Foldi and Dupli for new phones, which gives some indication that the idea is a long-lasting one. We wouldn't be surprised to see something like this hit the markets in future.
However, flexible screens don't come cheap. LG have yet to disclose a price on the OLED TV R, but speculation ranges from around $15,000 up to $50,000. That's an enormous amount of money to pay for a disappearing TV, and we have to wonder what kind of price point a rollable LG phone will sit at, and whether it'll be worth it once the gimmick's appeal has worn off.
It's an interesting idea, and it's great to see companies experimenting with new technologies rather than simply aping Samsung and Motorola. However, with very little concrete details up for grabs, we'll have to wait and see in what form LG will release its collapsible phablet to take on some of its biggest Android rivals.
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