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Motorola raises the bar: Check out their new devices with rollable displays

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Lenovo showed two "rollables" at MWC 2023: a rollable Motorola smartphone and a rollable notebook. NextPit already had the opportunity to take a closer look at both devices. Here you can read our first impression—and how the rollable displays will continue.

After flexible AMOLED displays have created an entirely new product category with foldable smartphones, rollable displays could soon provide even more variety. The trick here is that the screen is pushed aside—either under the notebook keyboard or on the smartphone's back. The panel then slides out at the push of a button and thus enlarges the screen surface.

Rollable smartphone from Motorola: Rizr instead of Razr?

The Motorola Rizr prototype, which NextPit was able to test at the MWC, is relatively slow to roll out the display. It takes three seconds for the compact smartphone prototype to roll out from its full 6.5 inches. And in three seconds, the display also slides back around the smartphone's chin a bit to the device's back.

Motorola smartphone with rollable display
The display in the Motorola Rizr prototype rolls upwards beyond the case. / © NextPit

In the retracted state, the smartphone display can also be seen on the back. You then also have a display available to take selfies with the main camera—or to elicit a smile from the models in front of the camera with smileys. When you open the selfie camera, the display slides a bit further around the smartphone and reveals a selfie camera. 

Despite the elaborate design, however, the sample looks reasonably solid both when rolled in and out. For example, it is no problem to hold the smartphone in landscape mode—although we were not allowed to try that ourselves.

Motorola smartphone with rollable display
Stability is important so that you don't accidentally break the rollable smartphone during an intensive gaming session. / © NextPit

Motorola also had a few use cases in store for how the display could be integrated into everyday life. For example, if you watch a YouTube video in portrait mode and turn the smartphone by 90 degrees, the display automatically slides forward. Also, when writing emails in Gmail, the display automatically slides up to have more space for text and keyboard.

Unfortunately, Motorola's contact at the MWC could not give us a timeline when we will really see a rollable smartphone. However, it is probably certain that the first rollable will be a Motorola smartphone—and not a Lenovo one.

Motorola smartphone with rollable display
Shooting selfies with the main camera? No problem with such a rollable smartphone. / © NextPit

Lenovo notebook with rollable display tried out

Lenovo completely owns the notebooks for this. In the rollable prototype that NextPit was able to try out, it took 17 seconds for the display to roll out from 12.7 inches to 15.3 inches. The aspect ratio changes from 4:3 to 8:9, so the screen extends upwards by a third. When rolling up, the notebook finally pushes a third of the display under the keyboard again. By the way, the prototype has the same panel as the mega-foldable Lenovo ThinkPad X1 (hands-on).

Lenovo notebook with rollable display
The display in the Lenovo notebook can be extended upwards by about a third. / © NextPit

According to Lenovo, the biggest challenge currently is still to make the mechanism stable and durable. After all, the two push mechanism has to ensure a stable screen even when extended. It is also important that the flexible panel always has the correct tension. For this purpose, there is a pull mechanism underneath the keyboard that always keeps the panel under tension. After all, the screen shouldn't get any wrinkles.

Lenovo notebook with rollable display
Building a notebook with a rollable display that is solid and durable is no easy task for Lenovo. / © NextPit

Outlook: What's next for the rollables?

Neither the display-rolling smartphone nor the notebook with the rollable display will come to market in this form. In any case, Lenovo sees the rollable displays in the ultraportable first—the manufacturer could not give us a timeline for a smartphone yet.

Lenovo notebook with rollable display
Practical feature: If you turn the Motorola rollable to landscape mode while watching YouTube, the display automatically rolls out. / © NextPit

What do you think of the concepts shown by Lenovo and Motorola? Could you get along with one of the two form factors? And how much would you be willing to pay for it?

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Stefan Möllenhoff

Stefan Möllenhoff
Head of Content Production

I have been writing about technology since 2004 with a strong passion for smartphones, photography, and IoT, especially in the world of smart homes and AI ever since they debuted. I'm also an avid cook and bake pizza at least three times a week using my Ooni Koda 16. In order to compensate for all the consumed calories, I indulge in sporting activities on a daily basis while strapping on at least two fitness trackers. I am strongly convinced that you can DIY a lot of things if you put your mind to it - including a photovoltaic system and power station.

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