That seems to be a distinct possibility for Samsung thanks to a patent filed back in June that only came to light this week. The patent, filed with the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO), describes a two-part Galaxy Watch display that users will be able to pull out, creating more screen space. The patent was spotted by Dutch blog LetsGoDigital (opens in new tab).
There's no indication that any such device is part of Samsung's smartphone plans. Patents merely reflect companies safeguarding designs and technologies, not a roadmap for future product development. In other words, Samsung may be tinkering with a rollable smartwatch display, but that's no guarantee it ever sees the light of day.
That said, we're intrigued by the display described in the patent application. According to LetsGoDigital, the display is made up of two separate parts that you can pull apart when you need more screen space, adjusting the size with the watch's digital crown. The Galaxy Watch would expand from the center; when fully extended, you'd be looking at a 40% larger screen.
While smartwatches can be helpful for at-a-glance info, their small displays can make it hard to look at more detailed data and big passages of block text. Presumably, expanding that space with a rollable display would give you a larger viewing area.
There could be other reasons to add an expandable display to smartwatches, though. LetsGoDigital describes a split-screen effect where different parts of the screen could serve different functions — controls on the smaller part of the display, for example, to operate an app on the larger portion.
In addition, the middle of the rollable display would house a camera capable of shooting photos and recording video. The camera would exist in the watch's middle frame, and you'd slide open the display to activate it.
Samsung's made in-roads in the smartwatch world with the Galaxy Watch 4, currently one of the best smartwatches for Android. Samsung worked with Google to develop a version of WearOS that can run on the watch while maintaining elements of Samsung's own Tizen software. The Galaxy Watch 4 has also proven to offer its share of valuable features, making it a worthwhile alternative to the Apple Watch.
As noted, it's unclear just how serious Samsung is about rollable displays for its smartwatch. But such a feature would certainly help Samsung stand out even more among wearables makers.