The flexible scrollable screen will be the phone design trend of the future

Tram Ho

For more than a decade, smartphone designers have embraced rectangular devices. Recently, they started testing new, different types of machines. We have seen the arrival of smartphones of all sizes. Last year, Samsung and Motorola launched clamshell foldable phones, which when opened, would look like normal smartphones. Even Microsoft was caught up in the trend with the Surface Duo, a book-shaped phone with two screens connected to each other through a hinge running along the center.

And in early 2021, a new phone design trend was gradually taking shape: devices with flexible screens that could be rolled up to become bigger. Last week, at CES 2021, TCL and LG both unveiled such concept phones.

What exactly is a “roll”? The device shape may differ, but they all have the ability to expand the screen by dragging vertically or horizontally to increase the display area. Imagine this as if you took a plastic wrap out of its box. That’s exactly what TCL and LG introduced. This design has many benefits. Unlike folding screen phones, which are quite thick when closed because the screens will overlap, scroll phones can be quite thin. An ultra-compact phone with a scrollable screen can be scaled up to the size of a traditional smartphone and then zoomed out with just a push or two-hand pull.

The era of scrolling screens

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Concept roll screen phone of TCL

Scrolling screens have been in fact developed for many years, but are only exposed at a time when smartphone sales are on the decline. Part of the reason is probably the lack of meaningful hardware upgrades year after year, not to mention consumers today are holding their phones longer than before. To deal with this inertia, phone makers have to figure out ways to get you excited about buying a new phone, and experimenting with new screen technology seems like a plausible solution. LG asserted that at its Project Explorer showcase late last year, an initiative aimed at “exploring new usage ideas in an effort to expand the mobile industry”.

We are 100% convinced that all of these new display technologies – fold, flexible, flex, roll – are highly innovative, ” said Stefan Streit, TCL’s general manager of global marketing. ” If you look back at the past 10 or 12 years, we all used the same phones; the form factor hasn’t changed. Consumers want the biggest screen possible in a form. the smallest possible factor, but the fixed screen has many limitations .

The biggest hurdle in popularizing new designs with phones is their high price tag. Samsung’s first foldable phone, launched in 2019, costs $ 1,980. Last year’s Z Flip cost $ 1,380, and Microsoft’s Surface Duo cost $ 1,400. However, these technologies will start to reach more people this year, according to industry analyst Patrick Moorhead, founder and chairman of Moor Insights & Strategy.

There is a price problem. I expect this problem to subside this year, ” said Moorhead. ” If some firms offer a breakout price to start at $ 1,000, the number of devices sold will increase significantly .” Moorhead also expects to see more of such foldable designs at MWC in June (MWC usually takes place in late February in Barcelona, ​​but is now relocated to June because of COVID-19).

Another hurdle is stability. Most high-end single-screen phones these days have a super-durable protective glass above the screen, along with an IP68 water-resistance rating that helps protect the phone from accidents. However, the 2019 Galaxy Fold was “knocked down” after a cloud of dust found its way inside the hinge, causing Samsung to delay the sale date to refine the hinge mechanism. It was a shameful slip, but things have come a long way in just a year.

When Lenovo launched Yoga, it took years for the industry to find better solutions to problems like hinge, ” says Moorhead. ” We even see changes coming out over the years, typically Samsung with the second Fold using a brush mechanism instead of the traditional hinge like the previous one. Maybe this is not the case.” the user cares about a lot, but in the mechanical engineering world, that’s very important .

The brush mechanism will wipe the inside of the hinge every time the phone opens or closes, helping to prevent dust from getting inside the Fold 2. Moorhead expects this year’s foldable phones to have similar durability with devices. next to the rectangle we often see. Streit reiterated Moorhead’s statement and stressed that mechanical engineering is playing an increasingly large role in smartphone design. ” In the past 10 years, the industry has not needed too many moving components. Scroll phones will need to deliver a really good mechanical experience, capable of preventing dust from getting in, ” he said.

TCL says it plans to launch a foldable or roll phone in 2021, and LG has confirmed that LG Rollable will go on sale this year. All of this doesn’t mean the traditional single screen phone experience will disappear anytime soon. After all, Streit says that people still buy folding phones these days. For TCL, he said, the new display technologies are ” a long-term strategy “.

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LG Rollable

We can guess that the first wave of devices with a scrollable screen won’t have too many new features. Otherwise, phone makers face the risk of shocking consumers – who are familiar with traditional smartphone designs – “stunned”.

Things shouldn’t be so crazy; that’s what we envisioned the scroll phone idea, ” Streit said. ” It’s about the same thickness as a regular smartphone, it has the same form factor, something everyone can use every day. But when you need a bigger screen, you can roll it out, it’s a concept.” simple and natural “.

As for traditional smartphones with fixed hardware screens, do not expect many changes. The bezels around the screen will be thinner. Colors and details will be even bolder. Buttons and ports may disappear. The notch that contains the front camera may disappear (Last year, ZTE “showed off” a phone with a selfie camera hidden under the screen, putting an end to the screen cutout to house the camera, however this phone not very welcome). But overall, rectangular cell phones will remain a familiar, safe, and possibly somewhat … boring thing.

Once you get used to that glass, there won’t be much to interest you. That’s why manufacturers are so motivated to look for such a new form factor. If you run out of reasons. to buy something, the industry creates a new reason . ”

Reference: Wired

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Source : Genk