See Motorola’s New Rollable Phone

Motorola demoed its new rollable phone at the 2023 Mobile World Congress, featuring a screen that can roll back or expand to extend or decrease the size of the screen.

By Charlene Badasie | Updated

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Motorola revealed its new rollable screen concept phone at the 2023 Mobile World Congress. It features a screen that wraps around the bottom of the device and automatically extends to create a bigger display. When rolled away, it serves as a handy second screen. Much like foldable phones, the technology aims to fit more in less space.

By default, the Motorola device features a compact five-inch 15:9 screen. When certain apps are opened, gestures triggered or orientation changed, it automatically extends to 6.5 inches, with an aspect ratio of 16:9, CNET reports. There are also settings to help configure how and when you want the display to roll out.

Holding it vertically, the screen can roll up when writing an email. When watching videos, Motorola users can adjust the display to automatically expand when it’s turned horizontally. Turning the display back to vertical automatically rolls the screen back down. While it’s definitely a cool concept, there are concerns about the durability of the extended screen.

Android Authority described the Motorola rollable phone as really heavy, at 210 grams. And the rolling mechanism is undoubtedly a drain on the battery. Since it’s extremely slim, the device could be damaged easily. The company kept its prototype unit encased in a clear plastic case at the Mobile World Congress, which was probably a necessity.

Without it, the display would be entirely exposed at the front and back. This means the Motorola phone can’t be placed on a surface without the risk of scratching the screen or dust particles getting into the rolling mechanism. As a result, accident-prone folks may constantly be worried about dropping the delicate-looking device.

It also boasts multiple cameras. But the company didn’t elaborate on those or any other specs at the Barcelona event. For now, Motorola hasn’t revealed if the rollable phone will ever go on sale, or how much it would cost. These displays have yet to make it to the mainstream. This is largely due to the complexities of how the screen works.

The device requires a tiny, power-efficient, reliable motorized system to roll the screen around. For now, the concept Motorola Rizr has a 3,000 mAh battery, which may be enough for a smaller 5-inch display. But would it be insufficient for the extended 6.5 inches? Additionally, the amount of power needed to roll and unroll the display is also concerning if it’s used several times a day.

It remains to be seen if the Motorola device will hit store shelves in the next few years. Meanwhile, Lenovo, the telecommunication outfit’s parent company, is also thinking about how flexible displays can improve user experience on other smart devices.

At 2023 Mobile World Congress, the company unveiled a laptop prototype of the ThinkPad X1 Fold with the same rollable screen technology. The display in unexpanded form is 12.7 inches with a 4:3 aspect ratio and expands to a 15.3-inch screen with an 8:9 aspect ratio. The X1 Fold is expected to launch later this year, Mashable reports.