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Stop, drop, and roll: Alternative to foldable smartphones revealed

Stop worrying about the Samsung Galaxy Fold, drop your plans to buy one, and roll open the new alternative: an unfurling tablet.

Display manufacturer BOE has unveiled a rollable screen that could introduce an entirely new form factor for smartphones, as an alternative to the foldable screen models we’ve seen lately in the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X.

The prototype on display at SID Display Week was a 12.3-inch non-touchscreen, so there’s still plenty of work to be done before we see rolling-screen smartphones on the market.

Related: Best smartphone

News of this innovation comes after months of disappointments regarding foldable phones. Shortly after the Samsung Galaxy Fold was handed over to reviewers, handsets started malfunctioning badly. Supposedly some problems came about as a result of the removal of a thin protective film of plastic on the screen.

Since then, Samsung has delayed the release of the handset indefinitely, and pre-orders (costing £1800) have been cancelled. With all these delays, it’s possible that we’ll see the release of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 before the Galaxy Fold.

Huawei had also announced its own foldable device, the Mate X. But recently the company had to admit that it was now scheduled to be released in September, rather than June as had been anticipated.

It’s unclear whether Huawei has run into the same quality control issues as Samsung, but the news isn’t encouraging for those of us who would like to have the smartphone and tablet experience in one handy device.

For that reason, it’s encouraging to see that manufacturers have not given up on ideas such as this and are still pursuing innovative new formats. We will follow this story closely to observe the development of rollable smartphones — we can’t wait to see how they turn out!

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