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Samsung Galaxy Z Roll — what we want to see from Samsung's first rollable phone

Samsung Galaxy Scroll concept image
(Image credit: Techconfigurations)

The Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Z Flip could get some company later this year when Samsung introduces the Galaxy Z Roll — or whatever name gets affixed to the rollable device that the phone maker reportedly has in the works. Samsung is on the record as saying it wants to expand its lineup of foldable phones, and rumors are heating up that a new arrival could appear alongside the updates to the Fold and Flip at Samsung's next big product event.

That launch is still several months away — if the Galaxy Z Roll even appears there at all — so there's a lot of time for more rumors to emerge about this new device. That will be welcome, as right now, there's not a lot to go on, outside of some patents, a few claims by prominent leakers and the occasional concept design.

Still, it's pretty apparent that foldables are a key part of Samsung's strategy, with Samsung confirming more than a year ago that it's interested in rollable displays. Subsequent reports point to the company launching Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 upgrades in the second half of 2022. With that kind of emphasis on foldables, it's time to start talking talk of a Galaxy Z Roll seriously, even if it's just chatter for now.

Here's a closer look at what we've heard about the Galaxy Z Roll up to this point and how we think the device with a rollable screen can earn its place among the best foldable phones.

Samsung Galaxy Z Roll release date rumors

If there is another foldable phone from Samsung coming this year, it's most likely going to appear alongside the foldables Samsung already makes. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 are the current foldable offerings from Samsung, with updates of those phones expected in the second half of the year.

Based on Samsung's past record of holding Unpacked events, we'd assume a foldable-focused launch would happen at some point in August. That lines up with when the latest versions of the Fold and Flip debuted in 2021. It also gives Samsung the ability to launch its new hardware in plenty of time for the holiday shopping season.

In a since-deleted tweet from March, leaker Ice Universe claimed that a third Samsung foldable would debut in the second half of the year; the code name on that particular device is reportedly "Diamond." (That code-name has also been linked to next year's Galaxy S23 update, so who knows?) Galaxy Club claims to have seen three code names for Samsung foldable devices, with two of those code names corresponding to the Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Z Flip. Presumably, that third model would be the Galaxy Z Roll, though nothing appears to be etched in stone.

Samsung Galaxy Z Roll rumored name

We've been calling Samsung's rumored phone the Galaxy Z Roll because that's the name the rest of the internet seems to have settled upon. But that doesn't mean it will be the official name of the product — there's certainly no definitive rumor on what name Samsung's picked, if it's even settled on a name at all.

Samsung Rollable phone concept

(Image credit: LetsGoDigital)

Another possibility would be to name the new phone the Galaxy Z Scroll, as that accurately describes how the screen on the device will expand. (More on that process in a moment.) Or Samsung could turn to another name entirely. There's even the possibility of Samsung dropping the Z from its foldable phone names — the Fold and Flip included — as that letter has become affiliated with Russian nationalism in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine. In some parts of Eastern Europe, Samsung has been selling the Galaxy Z Fold in package with the Z very clearly missing.

Samsung Galaxy Z Roll rumored price

If we don't the official name of the upcoming phone, it's a safe bet we're also in the dark about how much Samsung will charge for it. Our first instinct, though, would be to expect a pretty pricey phone, as Samsung foldable's have commanded a premium price up until now.

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the lowest-priced foldable Samsung offers, starting at $999. The Galaxy Z Fold costs nearly twice as much at $1,799. Reports claim Samsung is eager to lower the prices on its foldables, particularly for the Fold, but it's unclear how that would impact an initial release of the Galaxy Z Roll — especially if that phone is positioned as a higher-end version of Samsung's foldables.

Samsung Galaxy Z Roll rumored design

Thanks to patents and a few leaks, we have a general idea of how the Galaxy Z Roll will work — and how different it will be from Samsung's current foldables. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 both open up to reveal a larger interior screen. The Galaxy Z Roll, however, would use a rollable display to expand the amount of available screen space. At least, that's what early rumors of this device have described.

If the concept sounds familiar, it's what LG was aiming to do with the LG Rollable. That device was set to use an expandable screen to convert from a phone into a tablet with the press of a button. LG even went so far as to include a demo during CES 2021. However, LG subsequently exited the phone business, and its rollable phone exited with it.

LG Rollable

(Image credit: LG)

Samsung, which has enjoyed more success in the smartphone space in general and the the foldable niche in particular, figures to not be deterred as easily. The question, though, is how exactly the Galaxy Z Roll would expand — would it be at the top or at the sides?

Recent filings with the World Intellectual Property Organization may provide some clue. That application showcased two different designs — one with the rollable part of the screen emerging from the side of the phone and another where the top of the display rolls out vertically. In both cases, the screen is described as opaque, suggestion that Samsung sees augmented reality as a possible use case for this device.

An image of Samsung's rollable WIPO application

(Image credit: Samsung / WIPO)

Then again, that is just an application, and it could describe a device that's entirely different from the one Samsung could be prepping for later this year. It does go to show that Samsung is putting a lot of thought into what purpose a rollable phone can serve, though.

In the absence of more definitive details about the Galaxy Z Roll, concept designers have stepped into the vacuum to depict what a rollable/scrollable Galaxy device might look like. Dutch 3D designer Jermaine Smit came up with one of our favorite designs, showcasing a rollable phone with an S Pen. That Samsung has subsequently included an S Pen with the Galaxy S22 Ultra while also adding stylus compatibility with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 makes this design feel even more realistic.

Galaxy Z Roll concept

(Image credit: Jermaine Smit/Let's Go Digital)

Samsung Galaxy Z Roll rumored specs

Leaks detailing Galaxy Z Roll specs are few and far between at this point. An early Samsung patent suggested that the rollable device would feature a conventional 6 inch screen capable of expanding to 8 inches. That would be bigger than Galaxy Z Fold 3's 7.6-inch unfolded display.

samsung rollable concept

(Image credit: Credit: Ts Designer/YouTube)

Other specs require a certain amount of guesswork on our part. Other Samsung foldables have turned to the best silicon available, so we'd assume that would hold true for a Galaxy Z Roll as well. Should the phone arrive this year, that would point to a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 powering the Galaxy Z Fold, just like it's expected to feature in the updated Fold and Flip devices.

Cameras are harder to pin down, as Samsung has taken different approaches with its two foldable phones. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 comes packed with cameras — three rear shooters, a front camera on the exterior display and an under-display camera when you unfold the phone. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 has a pair of rear cameras, plus a selfie cam on the inside of the phone. You can use the exterior cameras to shoot selfies as well, with the help of the exterior display that can double as a view finder for the cameras. We imagine the Galaxy Z Roll would find a middle ground in terms of cameras, though that's pure speculation at this point.

Samsung Galaxy Z Roll: What we want to see

Clearly, we need more details to emerge for a clearer picture on the Galaxy Z Roll. But based on our experience with Samsung's other foldables, there are a few features we hope will make the final cut whenever this new kind of device joins the phone maker's offerings.

Better battery life: Bigger screens draw more power, and that's been the bane of both the Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Z Flip. The Flip's on our battery test is so off the mark — it's roughly 4 hours shorter than the average smartphone — it's almost enough to dissuade people from using this otherwise innovative flip phone.

Part of the problem is Samsung doesn't have a lot of space to fit in a bigger battery. Perhaps the Galaxy Z Roll's more conventional form factor will help with that, but it's still something Samsung will have to improve one way or the other, if it wants people to be as excited about foldables as the company is.

Improved under-display camera: While we don't know the official specs for the Galaxy Z Roll's camera setup, it's pretty clear Samsung considers under-display cameras to be the future, especially when it comes to edge-to-edge displays. If that's the case, we hope Samsung figures out a way to make those pictures sharper than the ones produced by the Galaxy Z Fold 3' shooter.

A durable design out of the gate: Samsung's track record with foldables thus far has been to roll out an initial device, and then spend the next year working on a follow-up that's better able to hold up to the rigors of daily use. 

The Galaxy Z Roll won't necessarily have that margin for error. When it does appear — whether later this year or at a future date yet to be determined — we hope that Samsung's releasing a device that won't exhibit the kind of mechanical issues that marked the Galaxy Z Fold's initial rollout.

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.