Rollables could revive a phone’s small form factor

Motorola rizr rollable phone expansion

Rita El Khoury / The Android Authority

Small modern smartphones It is a rare breed these days. Brands scramble to fit the largest plate possible into the largest brick shape that can still be held in a human hand. That’s why we often do a double take when we see any new smartphone with a screen smaller than six inches. But there is one obvious solution that could steer the ship back toward smaller form factors: foldable phones.

Rollables are the little phones you need

OPPO Rollable Phone Concept open in hand

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

We’ve been seeing convertible smartphone concepts for several years now. LG had a notorious rollable Ready to trade in the market before the smartphone division closes, the OPPO X It was shown two years ago, and TECNO made a rollable and foldable concept phone. However, all of these features rely on a long-slab smartphone form factor that expands horizontally to provide a larger square screen.

This changed last week when we saw Small Motorola Razr concept Roll up to reveal a taller screen. What Motorola has done with the rizr is emulate its old series of slider phones, which started with a tiny phone and slided to show the T9 keyboard. The new rizr concept takes this to the next level by rotating its width from back to front, expanding it vertically. Goes from five inches when retracted to 6.5 inches when rolled up.

The rizr completely changes the equation for smaller phones. The first time I saw the display roll down, I felt magic. It’s been a while since I’ve had such a feeling of awe with smartphones. However, it also felt completely rational – why hadn’t we thought of this before?

A rollable solution is the most sensible solution to a compact phone or large screen dilemma. You can have both!

Putting durability issues aside for a moment, a roll-out form factor is the most sensible solution to the small-format phone or big-screen dilemma. You can have both! It’s a pocketable device with a screen that’s usable as is, but can give you more screen real estate when you need it. Something like a rollable rizr could easily fit in the pockets of my fine women’s jeans without feeling like I was compromising and limiting myself to showing a fun size all the time. I knew I could get more screen on demand.

Know when to roll, and know when to fold

Oppo Find N2 Flip Moonlit Purple in hand

Robert Triggs/Android Authority

“But Rita,” I hear you say, “it’s really possible with pleats. Just look at it.” Galaxy Flip 4 And in general, the success of Samsung’s Flip series. ” And you will be absolutely right.

The clamshell foldability is another way to solve the pocketability versus screen size conundrum, and it’s clearly gaining traction among smartphone buyers. It does come with two major annoyances, though: thickness and the usability of an external display. At the moment, no flip phone has been able to solve either of these issues. the Oppo Find N2 Flip It gets close, but it’s still almost twice as thick as other phones and you can’t access all the features on the external screen — despite Samsung’s larger size.

Despite some concerns about durability and components, the foldables seem like a superior smartphone design to me.

That’s not to say that collapsible menus have popped up in everything just yet — or that we’ll actually see them in every store. Obviously, durability is a major concern. The motorized rolling system and the exposed thin display part that rolls upwards or sideways are obvious weaknesses. In addition, manufacturers will have to solve the space issue. How do you fit a battery big enough to power a large screen (temporarily) and a powerful processor, plus a modern camera setup into a smartphone that’s two-thirds the size of any other?

The first or second generation of foldables are bound to suffer from these quirks, just like the first few not-so-perfect clamshells. But I have no doubt that at the moment I am looking for a premium smartphone design. (I say this with an asterisk that other form factors may change my mind in the future, or that clamshells may get thinner with a more usable exterior.)

Do you prefer foldable or foldable phones?

53 votes

Is this the resurrection of the small phone?

Motorola Razr phone is rollable from the front

Rita El Khoury / The Android Authority

I’m old enough to remember the size of the first cell phones (and their pop-up antenna), and then how they got smaller as components got smaller and more powerful. Smartphones have pushed volumes higher and higher again due to the need for a large display ready for content, but it looks like we’re about to go through another miniaturization phase now.

Foldable elements and foldable menus are emerging as viable small phone solutions. We just need the ingredients to catch up.

Foldables, foldable menus, slideables, and other form factors are slowly emerging as viable small phone solutions. Take a big screen and fold it, roll it or move it – just give it a smaller footprint anyway – and still have a screen to enjoy your content that disappears when you don’t need it. Rollables have the advantage that they give you a better starting point than foldables which, by design, hide the screen inside when folded. We just need the rest of the ingredients to get going quickly.

Just a few years ago, folds were concepts everyone would have suspected. However, here they are now, viewed as a successful form factor and the standard against which any future flexible phone should be compared. So I can easily imagine a future where we carry a small 5-inch screen in our pocket, but can expand it two or three times to reveal a much larger tablet-like canvas. Fun times ahead.

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