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This is what a Samsung rollable could look like

Samsung may be doing its best to make foldables go mainstream with the recently unveiled Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Z Fold 3, but its next move could be in the form of a rollable if a recent patent is anything to go by.

Dutch site Let’s Go Digital recently uncovered a patent [PDF] from April showing a phone with a rolling screen which extends to tablet proportions, similar to a concept LG famously showed off at CES 2021

Of course, with LG officially out of the game, the space is clear for another manufacturer to take the baton, and it looks like Samsung could be up for the challenge. Notably, the company has trademarked both “Galaxy Z Roll” and “Galaxy Z Slide”, which could prove significant. 

Let’s Go Digital ran with the sketches included in the patent to mock up what the phone might look like if actually built by Samsung’s designers, and it certainly looks appealing. 

Like the recent Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, S Pen support is suggested in some of the pictures. That’s pure speculation on the site’s part, of course, but would make sense assuming the rollable screen is solid enough to take the prods and pokes of a stylus without cracking.

Weirdly, the patent and mockups show the display extending onto the rear side of the device, both when rolled and unrolled. It’s not really clear what benefits this would provide, but nonetheless, there it is.

Like the Z Fold 3, the main appeal is the ability to have both a phone and (small) tablet with only the footprint of the former. And a rollable solution to the problem does have certain advantages over a foldable one: in theory, it should be both thinner and lighter than current foldables.

But a familiar problem could also emerge, especially in early generations: durability. Extending the display would likely involve a motor, which is a potential break point just as risky as the hinge mechanism which proved to be the Achilles Heel of the withdrawn early version of the original Galaxy Fold.

A patent isn’t a guarantee of a commercially available product, of course, but it’s nonetheless interesting to see what options Samsung is considering for the 2-in-1 phone/tablet hybrid. 

With this year’s foldables already unveiled, we wouldn’t expect any movement on this until 2022 at the absolute earliest, so be prepared for a long wait.

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