It seems the screen on this device can be stretched out and extended in one direction, and then the edge of that screen also folds over to some extent. However we don’t see the fold go all the way over and close shut in the patent diagrams. That suggests this is a device that would help with certain situations where extra display space is required at a different angle: watching movies for example, or making video calls. It’s an intriguing concept that we haven’t really seen so far. As ever with patents though, this is no guarantee that a finished product will ever come to market. Patents are a good indication of what manufacturers are thinking about, but those plans don’t always come to fruition for all kinds of reasons.
With foldable phones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, we already know where we are: you open and close it like a book, and the display adjusts appropriately. What if that foldable… could also be rolled? That’s the idea behind a new patent submitted by Samsung (via 91mobiles), which shows a phone with a screen that folds out like a foldable phone while also extending like a rollable phone, similar to the Oppo X 2021. The “electronic gadget capable of folding and sliding movements” combines the two mechanics in one chunky-looking chassis, and if Samsung can pull this off, it will be quite an engineering accomplishment.
Samsung has already been teasing the idea of rollable displays on its devices, and if you’ve got a good memory then you might recall that we saw a patent for a rollable phone from Samsung all the way back in January. Is this the sort of technology that we can expect to see in the Galaxy Z Fold 4? While some rollable phones have appeared on the scene already, they’re by no means as widely available as foldables. The LG Rollable was shown off in prototype form but never saw the light of day as an actual product, for example.
Hats off to TCL, which has put together a phone with a folding and rolling display much like the one outlined in this new patent from Samsung. Again though, the device hasn’t been put into mass production or gone on sale to consumers. It’s clear that the underlying mechanisms still need some work. As with foldables, rollables will gradually get better and more reliable over time, and then you can expect to see a number of them arrive at once – giving you a phone you can put in your pocket but that still expands to the size of a tablet. Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. On TechRadar you’ll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables.