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