We’re a month and a half past the Galaxy Fold’s original launch date, but after Samsung delayed its debut in order to improve its durability, there’s still no concrete info regarding when the company’s bendable phone will actually go on sale.
Still, it seems Samsung’s recent setback hasn’t deterred the company from dreaming even bigger.
In a recent patent filing with the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) discovered by Let’s Go Digital, instead of another foldable phone, Samsung showed off a design for some kind of rollable device.
Based on the illustrations in the patent filing (which you can see more of here), Samsung’s rollable phone concept takes advantage of flexible display technology to create a device that at first looks like a traditional smartphone but has a screen that can be extended using a sliding mechanism by at least 60 per cent.
In normal use, much of the device’s rollable display would be hidden inside the body of the phone. However, when viewed from the side, it’s pretty easy to see where all the extra screen is hiding. While this idea might seem ridiculous, it’s not actually that far fetched, as one method already used by device makers to decrease the size of a phone’s bottom bezel is to bend a phone’s display inwards into the body of a device. For a more visual explanation, check out MKBHD’s video here.
The reason for this is that, by bending a display backward and folding it underneath itself, it gives more room for smartphone makers to hook up the required display cables and adapters. So, on this rollable phone patent, Samsung is just taking that concept to the extreme by extending the part of the display that gets folded inside the phone and making it usable through the use of an innovative slider design.
That said, I think Samsung’s patent illustration is a bit misleading, which might be an intentional move on Samsung’s part to hide its true intentions. As neat as this patent appears, the value of a screen with such an extreme aspect ratio is highly questionable. Sure, it would allow for the creation of an epic Tetris app or some fun levels in Super Mario Run, but that’s likely about it.
This illustration of the device’s side shows how its rollable screen is situated inside its body. Illustration: Samsung (via WIPO)
However, if you imagine a rollable phone that could extend horizontally (in portrait mode) instead of vertically, suddenly things get a lot more interesting. Envision a phone that you could grip on both sides and expand it like an accordion to three or four times its original width, and now we’re talking.
Alternatively, a rollable screen could be used to decrease a phone’s dimensions down to something around the size of a credit card, while the slider allows the device to transform into “full-size” when you want to watch a movie or play a game. Something around the size of a Palm Palm that could be enlarged into a device similar in size to an iPhone XS or Galaxy S10 might be a refreshing choice for a lot of people.
Alas, as with all patent filings, there’s no guarantee that Samsung will ever turn its concept into a consumer-ready device. But if you thought Samsung’s early troubles with the Galaxy Fold was going to scare it away from making more phones with foldable screens in the future, think again.