We encountered a lot of weird and wonderful tech at Mobile World Congress, currently wrapping up in Barcelona, but with concept smartphones in the works, Motorola may have one of the most compelling products at the show, its first Scrollable concept.
Unveiled alongside parent company Lenovo’s rollable laptop concept — which effectively doubles the height of the display for better multitasking — Motorola’s rollable concept serves as an impressively compact form factor Android smartphones arrive, but just double-tap a button on the right side of them. On the other hand, a 15:9 5-inch display turns into a larger 22:9 6.5-inch panel.
You might wonder why Motorola thinks this is a concept worth investing in R&D dollars, but that’s really how the company is showing it, even though foldable devices — like its own Razr 2022 — do deliver on a more compact full-screen With the promise of smartphones, there may be more than one way to meet this challenge.
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Based on the time we got hands-on, one of the most elegant aspects of a rollable is that, unlike probably all foldables (except Huawei’s Mate Xs 2), it doesn’t require a smaller secondary display to convey information to the user when it’s closed.
Unlike the Oppo X 2021 rollable concept from a few years ago, Motorola’s interpretation not only expands vertically rather than horizontally, but it also doesn’t hide parts of the display that aren’t visible when viewed from the front of the phone.
Instead, the lower portion of the display is wrapped around to the back of the phone body, where it can still be seen. It now acts as a secondary rear display without the need for an additional panel, like the Razr and many of the other best foldables.
In this mode, the phone is face down and the rear display can be used to show notifications, incoming calls or the clock. When using the camera, it can double as a rear viewfinder or display animated faces to attract the attention of subjects (read: children) and make sure they’re looking in the right direction.
In another stroke of genius, the front-facing camera and earpiece are completely hidden during normal use, and the display scrolls down, rather than up, to reveal them slightly as needed. This applies whether you’re taking a selfie or answering a call, not unlike the Honor Magic 2 and Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 that launched in late 2018.
While double-tapping the side button forces the phone’s display to expand and contract, we’ve also seen a couple of use cases where Motorola’s scrollable screen can automatically adjust itself.
If you’re watching a landscape video in portrait and then tilt the phone sideways, the display will start to expand for a larger viewing experience. Likewise, while you can scroll through emails or messages in the shrunken 5-inch display mode, if you tap to bring up the on-screen keyboard, the display immediately lifts up to make more room for the keyboard and content. clever.
While the phone will never retail in its current form, Motorola wouldn’t be complete without Moto Actions, which means you can also quickly launch the camera with a twist of your wrist while a karate slash turns on the flashlight.
Do rollable phones really have a future?
Naturally, the current concept has glaring caveats for all the convenience that comes with the phone’s unique form factor and Motorola’s user experience.
Viewed from the side, the rollable body is thick by modern smartphone standards, while the additional display jutting out from the top of the body is so thin that it looks brittle.
Then there’s the motorized mechanism working inside that chunky body, which powers the expansion and contraction of the display. To function as a true consumer-facing smartphone, the system needs to be able to withstand hundreds, if not thousands, of repetitions over its lifetime.
While MWC 2023 featured a host of new foldables, from the Tecno Phantom V Fold to the Honor Magic Vs, to OnePlus confirming a premium foldable in the near future, it’s at least nice to know that other form factors are in the works, even though They have yet to prove themselves in the market.