Oppo X 2021 concept phone teases a rollable display
Although foldable phones have only just made their way onto the smartphone scene, manufacturers are already exploring the next innovation: handsets with rollable displays. One of the first to break cover is the Oppo X 2021, a concept phone shown off as part of a Oppo's annual future tech expo.
The phone starts off with a standard 6.7-inch OLED display, but this device hides a clever trick – the screen can be rolled out to offer an overall display size of 7.4 inches. You get something (reasonably) small to slide into your pocket, or something bigger to use more like a mini tablet.
And... that's just about all we know about this device. Oppo says it is busy working on components that are solid and robust enough to work time and time again, with a powertrain motor, backing plate and screen laminate designed to last.
LG and TCL are two of the manufacturers also rumored to be working on rollable phones like this one, though we haven't seen any actual hardware yet. We know that LG has the necessary know-how though, as it already manufacturers rollable screens for its premium television sets.
"The screen includes high-precision sensors that conduct real-time monitoring, enabling it to be positioned precisely, and retract and extend smoothly," explains Oppo. A total of 122 patents were applied for during the device's development, with 12 relating specifically to the rolling mechanism. You can see the concept in action in the video below.
The display can apparently be fixed at different points between 6.7 inches and 7.4 inches, so users will be able to set its size to suit – with apps adjusting as required to fill the available screen space.
One of the benefits of rollable versus foldable technology is that there's no crease in the center of the display to worry about. Based on the videos and images supplied so far, it looks as though the Oppo X 2021 phone manages to keep its display (and the rear of the phone) looking clean and seamless throughout.
Nothing Oppo has said about the phone suggests it's ever going to go on sale, so however far advanced the technology is, it doesn't seem to be ready for the mainstream just yet. From the limited number of hands-on demos we've seen, it looks as though the concept phone can indeed roll out and retract its display as advertised.
In the long-term, rollable phones might have more potential than foldables, though we'll have to wait and see how the technology plays out over the next few years. There's a good chance we might see the first rollable screen phone go on sale at some point in 2021.