Watch LG’s tragically canceled rollable put itself to the test

LG's unique rollable smartphone
LG’s unique roll-up. | Image: 뻘짓연구소

More than a year after LG unceremoniously exited the smartphone business and abandoned plans to release a rollable smartphone, a lengthy hands-on video has given us a full look at the unreleased device. LG’s rollable appeared in a short clip earlier this year, but this new video is much more comprehensive, showing off the phone’s design and features from every angle.

What I find most surprising is how finished the device looks. Although LG said it wanted to release it before the end of 2021, I had always assumed it was an ambition rather than a concrete plan. But this hands-on video appears to show a device that’s almost ready to ship to stores, complete with final retail packaging and a case accessory. XDA Developers notes that LG reportedly sold its remaining rollable prototypes to its employees, which could explain where this device came from.

The LG Rollable box.
Image: 뻘짓연구소
The device comes in what looks like near-final retail packaging.
LG rollable, forward, rolled up.
Image: 뻘짓연구소
The front of the device rolled up.

Of course, the main draw here is that screen, which measures 7.4 inches from corner to corner when full and shrinks down to 6.8 inches when rolled up. The roll-out mechanism resembles the Oppo X 2021 concept phone I got to try last year, with LG’s phone’s frame gradually expanding to unfurl its flexible OLED display. But in the LG’s case, there’s also a visible display on the back of the device, which appears to be able to display notifications.

LG’s phone appears to use a relatively strong motor to deploy its screen, with this hands-on video showing how it’s strong enough to push a small stack of books across a desk. But it’s not perfect – there are a few visible wrinkles on the right side of the phone’s screen when unrolled. It’s also unclear how durable the screen is or how many rolls and rolls it’s capable of withstanding. Rival smartphone maker Oppo told me it wanted to hit a 200,000 roll rating before turning its prototype into a consumer device, and it’s unclear how close LG got before canceling the project.

LG Display rear notification screen.
Image: 뻘짓연구소
A notification appears on the back of the device.
LG's unique rollable smartphone
Image: 뻘짓연구소
The device once unrolled.

The video also reveals that the circle on its back that some previously thought was a third camera sensor is actually a fingerprint reader, which sits below a 64-megapixel main camera and a 12-megapixel ultrawide. . Another fun detail is that the phone’s SIM card slot is hidden on the back of the phone and is revealed when the phone unfolds. Internally, the device is said to be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 processor (its flagship the year the device was released), along with 12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage and a 4,500mAh battery.

Although LG’s smartphone division is no more, enough companies are working on rollable devices that there’s a good chance one will eventually hit the market. In addition to the aforementioned Oppo prototype, TCL and Samsung Display have also shown interest in the technology. True consumer wearables with rollable screens have yet to be announced, but it only seems like a matter of time before one cracks it.

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