Confirmed: Samsung has big plans for rollable phones and slidables

samsung rollable concept
(Image credit: Credit: Ts Designer/YouTube)

It's fair to say that Samsung isn't sitting on its laurels when it comes to innovative form factors. The company already has two flavors of foldable phone — the Galaxy Z Fold 2, which opens up into a large tablet, and the Galaxy Z Flip, which folds in half to be more compact. Now the company has confirmed that it will be experimenting with more unorthodox ways of cramming more display into a small space.

Korean site The Elec reports that Samsung Display has gone on the record about its plans in the "rollable and slidable" arena. The company's senior vice president Choi Kwon-young reportedly said on the company's fourth quarter conference call that Samsung Display will push on with "small- to mid-displays this year." 

There are two important things to note here. Firstly, the report doesn't define what it means by rollable or slidable. It presumably refers to the way the screen expands — either unrolled, like a scroll, or sliding out — but you would imagine the results would look pretty similar to your average consumer.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, you'll note that the report refers specifically to Samsung Display — and that part of the business has fingers in a lot of pies. It's possible that the company's experimentation with rollable/slidable displays could be limited to television sets, rather than being small enough to pop in your pocket. 

It's also possible that the firm is talking about making displays for other companies to use, but on the phone front that would seem unlikely, given Samsung's enthusiasm for being first out of the traps with foldable handsets.

With all those caveats covered, there is good reason to think that Samsung is working on a rollable phone. Not only has LG's (possibly abandoned) Rollable handset piqued media interest, but a recently uncovered patent shows that Samsung has been considering the practicalities of rollable displays for at least a year. 

In the unlikely event that neither LG nor Samsung deliver a rollable phone, all hope isn't lost. TCL also has a rollable design in the works, which the company demoed at CES. No release date was given, but with LG's option reported to cost $2,359 (again, assuming it arrives), then TCL's reputation for lower-cost devices might prove attractive to those on a budget. 

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.