Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Motorola’s rollable phone leaked, but it’s not what you’d expect

Published May 9th, 2022 7:38PM EDT
Oppo X 2021
Image: Oppo

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

Lenovo is reportedly the latest smartphone vendor to make a phone with a rollable display. The device is in development, according to a well-known insider. But the Motorola-branded rollable phone isn’t like similar projects from Oppo (above) and LG that aim to offer users a tablet-like display in a more pocketable format. Well, LG’s rollable phone is already history, as the Korean smartphone vendor abandoned the mobile business before bringing the device to market.

Recent years have made it clear that smartphone design has reached its peak, as most phones look nearly identical. They all feature similar all-screen designs that have a notch or a hole-punch display. They’ll soon be replaced with devices featuring under-display cameras, at which point it’ll be nearly impossible to tell them apart.

The display surface now occupies almost the entire surface available on the front of the phone, save for a thin bezel. The only way to extend the display is by going for foldable or rollable phone designs. Motorola already makes foldable handsets, with a new Razr model having appeared in new leaks. The rollable design seems like the next logical step.

Oppo’s X is the closest thing we have to a commercial rollable handset, considering LG’s abrupt exit from the industry. The Oppo rollable looks like a regular all-screen device when the screen isn’t rollout out. But once you roll it, it resembles a tablet of sorts. You get the same effect as when you unfold a foldable handset like the Galaxy Z Fold 3.

Oppo X 2021
Image shows the 2-in-1 Plate that supports the two halves of the screen when the Oppo X is rolled out. Image source: Oppo

Motorola’s rollable phone takes a different approach

That’s because the Oppo rollable phone rolls horizontally. That won’t be the case for the Motorola handset. There’s another purpose for phones with foldable and rollable handsets. And that’s to reduce the footprint of current smartphones. The Motorola Razr and the Galaxy Z Flip phones are examples of that.

The clamshells foldable give you a more pocketable smartphone that offers the same display experience as a traditional phone when unfolded.

According to Evan Blass, Motorola’s rollable phone will fold vertically, not horizontally. About a third of the display is wrapped around a spindle at the bottom, facing backward. A motor then raises the screen, and the phone becomes taller.

Codenamed Felix, the device won’t hit markets anytime soon. The rollable phone is at least away, the leaker said. Motorola doesn’t even have a prototype and has been working with a modified Edge 30 Pro to test out the software. That’s probably why images of the rollable handset have not leaked.

While there might be some appeal for such rollable phone concepts, there is an immediate downside. A smaller overall device might feature a smaller battery than traditional phones. Only the screen would roll up and down, so all the other components will have to fit inside a smaller space.

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.