Motorola rollable phone preview: a practical future?

Motorola showcased its rollable phone concept at MWC 2023. Here's a quick look at the phone's design and use cases.

You might find it hard to believe but people are buying foldable smartphones around the world. Samsung is, of course, leading from the front when it comes to foldable technology on smartphones. That doesn’t mean other OEMs aren’t trying to innovate in this segment. There have been patents filed on unique rollable and foldable screens, some of which have been brought to life as concepts at various tech showcases, including CES and MWC. One such product I’m talking about today is the Motorola Rollable Phone, a proof-of-concept device that was showcased at MWC 2023.

A ‘proof of concept’ essentially means that an idea is possible but it isn’t ready for the market yet. The rollable phone from Motorola is at a prototype stage and the brand currently has no idea whether it will make it to production at all. The idea behind showcasing the product at MWC is to show the world that the brand has attempted at creating a rollable device, which could become an actual product one day depending on whether rollable phones have any practical use or not.

At its default state, the Motorola prototype offers a compact 5-inch screen. It’s small, yes, but enough to carry out most day-to-day tasks. In this form, the device could be very pocket friendly. However, the prototype I saw was rather thick, which means there would be a very noticeable bulge in the pocket.

The display rolls up vertically by double-tapping a button on the side. Motorola highlighted some of the practical use cases of having a vertically rolling display, one of which is more screen real estate for vertical scrolling. If you have a YouTube video playing and hold the device horizontally, the display rolls out automatically to offer a larger viewing experience. Likewise, if you open the Gmail app and compose a mail, the screen rolls up vertically to offer more real estate for the keyboard.

The display of the Motorola rollable phone curves at the bottom and acts as a secondary screen on the back. The secondary screen can have similar use cases as the one of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 or OPPO Find N2 Flip i.e. to show time, notifications, calls, and more.

Is the Motorola rollable phone the future?

At the moment, it’s hard to determine whether the Motorola rollable phone represents the future of mobile devices. While there are practical use cases for it and it’s less bulky than a horizontally folding device, a flip phone appears to be more practical in comparison. With a flip phone, you can quickly open and close the device instead of waiting for the screen to slowly unroll itself. Additionally, flip phones have become quite sleek nowadays. Therefore, we’ll have to wait and see if Motorola or any other brand can introduce a sleeker version of the rollable phone.