Last week, we were wowed by the Oppo X 2021: a concept smartphone that doesn’t need hinges to transform into a tablet – it just gets wider via a clever scrolling mechanism.
This is something that looks all the more trippy in action, because the screen adapts to what’s on it, making it seem like pure witchcraft:
OPPO X 2021 pic.twitter.com/dLUSQ2jwb0November 17, 2020
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If your first reaction to watching that clip was to wish that Samsung would pursue this kind of design instead of bending screens like on the Galaxy Z Fold 2, then you might actually be in luck. Ice Universe, a leaker with a very strong track record when it comes to Samsung predictions, has hinted that the company is working on something very similar.
Galaxy Z Fold ScrollNovember 17, 2020
Accompanying a picture of the Oppo X 2021 prototype, Ice Universe put the caption “Galaxy Z Fold S (In&Out folding)”, before following up with a second tweet calling it the “Galaxy Z Fold Scroll.”
This isn’t actually the first time we’ve heard the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold S mentioned, but when the name first leaked in September, the rumor was that it would be a very different product, closer in design to the Microsoft Surface Duo, with a single OLED screen and 360-degree hinge.
That’s still possible, although Ice Universe’s scrolling idea certainly sounds more likely to us. A scrolling design has clear advantages. While the Samsung Galaxy Fold handsets have a slightly distracting crease down the middle, Oppo’s prototype reportedly avoids this, and including only one screen means there’s one less part to fail.
On the other hand, it’s important to remember that Oppo’s phone is just a concept, and Samsung hasn’t even got that far yet. The Galaxy Fold launched with all kinds of problems, but it exists as a product you can buy right now, and works very well now in its second generation. Who knows how reliable a scrollable’s motorized element would be in making the phone expand over multiple years? And would a scrolling display really cope with the kind of punishment heavy use would provide?
Questions like these are the reason that new technology has long R&D cycles of course, and probably why there’s no release date in sight either. For now, your best bet of a 2-in-1 phone and tablet remains the Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 or, if you can wait until next year, the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
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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.