With Mobile World Congress 2023 in full swing, we were pretty much sure that we knew what to expect as far as mobile phone technology was concerned. After all, smartphones were the main attraction at the event, but this didn’t stop Lenovo from stealing the spotlight at the event, with some interesting surprises up its sleeve. More specifically, Lenovo gave us a full reveal of some new tech in the form of its rollable displays, which were demonstrated via two devices.
Lenovo Concept Rollable Laptop
First up is the Lenovo Rollable Laptop concept – at first glance, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the device for a “standard” laptop, given the somewhat ordinary-looking design. Opening it you are greeted by a 12.7-inch display, a standard keyboard layout, and your usual array of ports on the side. But a closer look reveals that the laptop houses a switch on the side, which when activated will extend the screen vertically to a full 15.3 inches, giving users more screen real estate for web browsing, spreadsheet editing, and such.
While most folks might think that a vertically-tall laptop display might not all be practical for actual use, Lenovo (and a lot of other computer OEMs) moved back to taller displays, given that 16:9 screens were mostly used for watching videos. On the other hand, web browsing, document editing, and most other productivity scenarios work better with displays that lean towards a taller format.
As for the hardware that makes this possible, Lenovo stated that it used a plastic OLED that folds at the bottom, allowing it to hide under the laptop’s keyboard when not extended. Once the extension switch is turned on, a series of motors and spring mechanisms then roll-out the rest of the display, which then adds a ton of room for users to work with.
At the moment however, the concept does have some limitations, particularly with the speed that the display is able to extend – the product team says that this current version is able to move at 10mm per second, but it’s very possible that a commercial version of the product might boost this speed to five or even ten times faster.
We asked Lenovo if we’ll ever see the rollable laptop make its debut as a full-on consumer device for markets, and they did say that they wouldn’t be wasting their time on a concept rollable laptop like this one, if they didn’t have plans to eventually bring something to market – call us excited, but we wouldn’t rule out seeing a Lenovo rollable laptop somewhere on the horizon as some point in the future. With that said, this is a great way of showing how Lenovo is far along with the development of this technology.
Motorola Concept Rollable Phone
Of course, the laptop wasn’t the only rollable device we saw at MWC 2023 – Motorola (now Lenovo’s primary smartphone brand) also demonstrated their fully-working Motorola Concept Rollable Smartphone – we actually have a live hands-on video of the device, which you can check out here. The phone was initially teased by Motorola a while back at Lenovo tech World 2022.
Picking up the phone, you are greeted by a somewhat small 5-inch P-OLED display, which in a way reminded us of those classic Android phones from yesteryear. Its compact size makes it a lot more pocketable and suitable for one-handed use though, compared to the massive slabs dominating the market today.
A quick double-press of a dedicated on the side of the phone triggers a mechanism that rolls out the screen, extending it to a full 6.5 inches, putting it in line with the larger displays that most smartphone owners are used to. With that said, this isn’t simply a case of slapping on a rollable display to a smartphone chassis, as Motorola has dedicated considerable research and development towards its rollable concept phone.
For one, the screen is able to automatically extend when users flip the phone sideways to watch a video – the display also hides the selfie camera and front-facing speaker, which are otherwise present when the screen slides down. What’s more, the display’s rear side is put to good use, functioning similarly to a cover display as seen on foldable devices like the Moto Razr, turning it into a viewfinder for selfie photos and video recording, and even notifications.
It should be noted however that Motorola didn’t mention if they were planning on developing this concept for retail and market distribution, although that doesn’t stop us from thinking that the company might actually push through with a consumer-ready product in the next couple of years, given the attention to function and detail demonstrated with this concept. Interestingly enough, the phone also bears the “RIZR” branding on it, a throwback to Motorola’s old RIZR cell phones from many years back, although aside from this nothing was mentioned regarding the branding.
All in all, the Lenovo Rollable Laptop and Motorola’s Rollable Concept Phone are undoubtedly two of the most exciting devices that we’ve seen so far during MWC 2023. And while there’s no word that either device will be making it to the hands of buyers within this year or even 2024, they are miles ahead compared to the myriad of less-impressive dummy units that we’ve witnessed over the past couple of years. One thing is for certain though – we’re very excited to see what’s to come soon.