The Oppo X 2021 Rollable Concept Phone Looks Like It Stretches Reality

Gif: Oppo

When it comes to delivering a big-screen experience in a package that still fits in a purse or pocket, rollable phones might be an even better solution than foldable handsets like the Samsung’s Galaxy ZFold2. However, with its new Oppo X 2021 concept, it looks like Oppo has figured out a way to turn a mind-bending idea into something feasible.

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While Oppo isn’t the first company to dream up a phone that uses a rollable screen to expand its dimensions, recent in-person demos showing the Oppo X 2021 in action have resulted in a handset where even seeing still doesn’t necessarily mean believing.

During Oppo’s recent INNO Day 2020 Event, Oppo showed how it used its proprietary Roll Motor to increase the size of the concept phone’s display from 6.7-inches up to 7.4-inches with the touch of a button. But what really makes the transformation boggle the mind is the way the visuals on the phone’s screen stretch accordingly in real-time, which honestly looks more like CGI than real life. Based on a handful of eyewitnesses including noted leaker Ice Universe, it seems the Oppo X 2021 isn’t faking, it’s legit.

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By using dual motors, Oppo is able to unfurl the concept phone’s rollable display in a controlled manner that doesn’t put excess pressure on specific points. And unlike the Galaxy Z Fold2, because Oppo X 2021's screen has a relatively wide 6.8mm arc when tucked away, the display doesn’t exhibit any visible bends or creases when fully deployed.

Furthermore, to better support its rollable display, Oppo also created a interlocking backplate to improve the phone’s strength and rigidity when rolled out. On top of that, the Oppo X 2021 uses a frame-within-a-frame design that allows important components like the phone’s battery to stay in place without creating huge gaps for dirt or other detritus to get inside. Finally, to help protect that delicate rollable screen, Oppo says it created what it calls Warp Track, which is a durable laminate designed to increase durability that seems to serve a similar function to the ultrathin glass Samsung uses in its foldable phones.

All told, Oppo says it has applied for a total of 122 patents based on components used in the Oppo X 2021, with 12 of those patents stemming from the company’s Roll Motor and scrolling mechanism. Unfortunately, while Oppo VP Levin Liu said he would like to release the Oppo X 2021 “at the right time,” this rollable phone is still very much a concept-only device for now.

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Regardless, with Samsung already having demonstrated the power of foldable phones with flexible OLED screens, it was only a matter of time until one company figured out how to make rollables work in real life. And with other companies including TCL and LG also working on creating their own rollable phones, it may not be too much long until these concepts become something we can actually buy.

Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

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DISCUSSION

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Finally, the Global!

Folding screens were always a bad idea. This is the future. I’m sure it’s not really ready for prime time yet, but proof of concept is a worthwhile achievement.

Global? Anyone? What’s that?  I’m old and my references are dated? Yeah?! Well,  . . . . um . . . . uh . . . . fair point.