One of the hot topics of this year’s virtual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which ended on Thursday (local time), was LG Electronics’ “Rollable Smartphone.” LG’s new phone is nicknamed, “sangsomun phone” since its rolled-up display resembles sangsomun, which is a petition to the king written on a parchment paper in the Joseon Dynasty. Following LG, China’s TCL announced that it will launch a rollable phone, drawing attention on display form factor in the smartphone market.
The show started with LG’s press conference. The beginning and the end of the video played at the press conference on the opening day of CES on Jan. 11 showed images of LG’s rollable smartphone. A man in the video was watching LG’s press conference with the rollable phone. When the man, who was watching the video horizontally, pressed a button on the side, the screen rolled up. When the man pressed the button again, the screen rolled back into the phone. And then the name of the phone, “LG Rollable” appeared on the smartphone screen.
Chinese electronics company TCL also unveiled a concept video of its rollable phone. In the video, a woman was holding a square-shaped smartphone. With the woman’s tap of the fingers, the screen turned into a bar-shape. When the woman, who was holding the phone horizontally, tapped the screen again, the screen contracted into a square shape. Although TCL’s rollable phone appears to be similar to that of LG, they are different in that the LG Rollable spreads to the right side while TCL’s rollable phone extends upwards.
It is expected that LG will release its rollable phone faster than TCL. The South Korean tech company did not disclose the exact release date but the industry expects that the LG Rollable will officially be unveiled and released in March at the earliest. On the other hand, a dominant view is that TCL’s rollable phone is still in a conceptual stage.
Media outlets reported that rollable smartphones will bring changes to the form factor of smartphones. With more and more people watching videos on their smartphone, smartphones nowadays have bigger screens and the form factor competition for folding and rotating smartphones has become fiercer. In particular, the fact that there is no wrinkle on the display, which is considered as the weakness of foldable phones, and the display extends without increasing the volume of the phone is considered as one of the strengths of rollable phones.
The smartphone industry is also paying attention on whether LG, which is struggling in the smartphone market, will be able to regain its status in the feature phone era with the launch of its rollable phone.