Forget Galaxy Z Fold 3: This new rollable phone looks stunning

Oppo X1 rollable
(Image credit: Oppo)

Phone makers have been hyping up the prospect of foldable phones for years now, but so far very few of them have actually launched working products. All we really have are Samsung’s Galaxy Fold devices, and to a lesser extent the Huawei Mate X.

Oppo has come up with a new idea, however. Instead of introducing a foldable phone that has a single hinge down the middle, it’s just unveiled the Oppo X 2021 — a concept smartphone that can literally expand in your hands.

Oppo revealed the phone with its “continuously variable OLED display”, which essentially means the screen rolls out like a scroll while you’re using it. What’s more, it can also adapt the content on screen during the process, expanding or contracting whatever is on screen to use up as much screen space as it can.

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It's not the first time we've seen something like this, TCL and LG have been hyping their own rollable efforts for a while now, but it is still just as fascinating to see in action.

As you can see in the videos from IceUniverse, extending the display is as simple as sliding your finger against a button on the side of the phone. Then as the screen expands, the content expands with it.

The screen itself can extend from a minimum size of 6.7-inches all the way up to 7.4-inches, but the “variable” part of that display means you can have anything in between. Oppo also says that the screen is always kept at angles that void creasing, so you don’t end up with a vertical blemish on your screen like you would on, say, a Galaxy Z Fold 2.

Plus, as shown above, the phone itself also expands with the screen, which Oppo says is important to ensure the display has correct support. After all a simple scroll function is all well and good until the thing is flapping about in the breeze. So it developed something called “Warp Track” which involves a system of expanding plates that use a “Roll Motor” to support the display as it rolls out.

oppo x 2021

(Image credit: Oppo)

On top of this the back unrolls as well, so you’re not exposing the interior of your phone to the elements every time you decide you want a bigger screen.

The downside here is that this, like many other devices like it, is not a commercial product. It’s a concept that will not be going on sale anytime soon, though the fact that there is a working device tells us that there is hope that it might arrive someday. The only questions we have are how much it’s likely to cost, and whether it will ever be available outside of Oppo’s home territory of China.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.