Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Is this the device that replaces the Galaxy Note?

Published Nov 17th, 2020 7:31AM EST
Image: Samsung

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

  • There’s increased chatter that Samsung might be replacing the Galaxy Note series with something else, and a leaker thinks he knows what it might be.
  • A Chinese smartphone maker has just demoed a device unlike anything in the business, a handset with a rollable screen that can be turned into an Android tablet.
  • Samsung might be working on a similar concept of its own, the leaker said, backing the claim up with additional rumors from earlier this year.

We’ve speculated for years that the Galaxy S and Note series are on a collision course and that Samsung might cancel the Note or fold it into the Galaxy S series down the road. The only thing that differentiates the two devices is the S Pen stylus, now that all smartphones have a version of the same all-screen design. And a few days ago, we learned that the Galaxy S21 Ultra would come with stylus support, a first for the Galaxy S devices. A more ample leak revealed that the S21 Ultra would not feature a built-in S Pen like Note 20, as Samsung will launch a special type of case to store the stylus. Separately, a leak said that Note 21 development had not started. At the same time, a different report offered an image of Samsung’s Jay Y. Lee, talking to other people while holding a phone that did not resemble anything we expect from Samsung.

This brings us to Oppo’s Inno Day 2020 event in China, where the Android vendor unveiled a few new products it’s working on. Among them, there’s the Oppo X in the image above, a smartphone with a rollable screen. A leaker thinks that might be the kind of phone design that “kills” the Note series.

Today’s Best Deal

Amazon Logo Available on Amazon

We’re used to seeing Oppo showcase mobile technology that’s yet to make its way into phones. The Chinese handset maker demoed technologies like 65W battery charging, periscope cameras with better optical zoom than anything else available on phones, and under-screen cameras well before they were mature enough to make it into Oppo flagships. But the phone that Oppo showed at the Inno Day 2020 event is already teased for 2021.

The Oppo X featured in the following images features an edge-to-edge all-screen display, with the screen being of the rollable OLED variety. We already know that LG is working on such a smartphone, and other handset makers are likely interested in the same technology.

The device uses special motors to allow the screen to seamlessly expand from 6.7-inch to a maximum of 7.4-inch and stop anywhere in between. The rollable part of the screen sits on the left side, where it features a Galaxy-like curve. Oppo said on stage that it designed a special plate that supports the display as the screen is rolled out. This would allow users to adapt the display’s size to all sorts of activities, from video playback to gaming to multitasking.

Phones with rollable screens might have a smaller footprint than foldable devices. One other advantage is that the screen will not show any creases, as it happens with foldables.

One obvious disadvantage concerns the screen durability. Glass can’t roll like that. At least not the glass that’s available today. And plastic screens might be prone to some damage.

The following animations show the screen rolling out:

Comparing the mysterious device in Lee’s hands and the Oppo X rollable concept, Samsung leaker Ice Universe speculated that the Samsung head might have been holding a rollable Samsung prototype.

The leaker said in a different tweet that Samsung never shows immature concept products to the public. “But Samsung is often the first to turn the concept into reality,” he said. Then again, Samsung showed foldables several years before launching the first model. And the first version featured a few major flaws that forced Samsung to delay the release by almost half a year.

Ice further cited a leak from August from a Twitter user that provided various names of unreleased Galaxy Fold devices. Among them, there’s a Galaxy Z Fold S device that features a rollable display:

Earlier this year, the same leaker did say that Samsung’s foldables will become true flagships, while the Galaxy S and Note will see more compromises down the road.

All this indirect evidence seems to indicate that Samsung is at least contemplating the idea of making a major change to the Note, and a rollable display might make sense, assuming you can still use a stylus with it. A clip showing Oppo’s presentation of the rollable phone follows below.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.