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Folding and folding phones give us something to look forward to in technology



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Rollables represent the next evolution of smartphones.

Screenshot of Sarah Tu / CNET

This story is part of THESE, where our editors will present you the latest news and the latest gadgets of the fully virtual CES 2021

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It may have been just a brief glance from LG CES 2021 press conference, but this teaser on a smartphone with a screen that launches hints at a return for mobile devices that want to shake conventional metal and glass plates. Despite the introduction of several new foldable phones in 2020 – in particular the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold 2, as well as the wider version of the Motorola Razr, few people were in the mood to spend up to $ 2,000 in the midst of a global pandemic.


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It’s 2021 and, well, little has changed. However, the hope is that the rapid spread of the COVID-19 vaccine – still high, if at this time – can bring some normalcy to our lives, as well as a renewed appetite and appreciation for more creative and dynamic phones.

Because let’s face it, we could all use something to get us aroused again.

LG did its best to annoy on the first day of CES. This was the second brief look, this time offering the device’s name, the LG Rollable. Curiously, LG executives didn’t even mention it during the press conference – flashes of phones were seen in the fast-paced promotional drums that started and ended the event – but it is real and coming this year.

TCL, which has unveiled a number of foldable prototypes over the past two years and which annoys more mobile concepts on Monday, will finally launch a foldable phone for consumers this year, according to Stefan Straight, the company’s chief marketing manager. The most notable aspect is its $ 1,000 price target. This is in line with Samsung’s comment last month for more affordable folding.

These foldable and mobile phones are not just tricks designed to generate some noise. These new, experimental designs help move the industry forward when it comes to how mobile devices look and work in the years to come. Just as the iPhone makes phones evolve from flip and candy designs to shiny metal and glass plates, folding ones can cause a change in the way we interact with our phones down. Lower prices mean that these phones are a little more affordable for people.

“Form factor innovation is definitely a feature,” Ronan Dunn, CEO of Verizon’s consumer business, said in an interview Tuesday. He did not comment on the LG Rollable, but noted that he was “very impressed” by some of the innovations that are coming along the line.

But can this excitement correspond to the initial influx of energy? Go back two hours by 2019 and the folding noise was feverish. Samsung started with an early look at its Galaxy Fold, followed a few days later by Huawei’s Mate X. Motorola ended the year with Razr. Things were to increase in 2020, with more to come.

We all know what happened next.

But early activity at CES suggests we can expect more breakthroughs this year.

Evolution of folding

The LG Rollable’s display returns to Signature LG OLED R, the mobile TV that has been the focus of the last few CES LG conferences. The use of flexible displays in a large 65-inch TV is impressive, but squeezing this technology into a handheld phone is another challenge.

“I can’t help but marvel at the technological innovations that are being put into them,” said Ramon Lamas, an analyst at IDC. “That says a lot about display technology and their resolution that can be incorporated into such a flexible form factor.”

While LG offered little information about the phone, revealing the name of the device suggests that it is ready to move forward with the product. Rollable will mark another radical change in the design of even the folding phone and will show that the industry still has some new tricks up its sleeve.

LG is not the only one who thinks about rollers. TCL’s display business also showed two mobile concepts, one a smaller phone with a screen that extends up to 6.7 inches while in portrait mode, and the other a 17-inch display that expands at both ends as treasure map.

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This remote concept tablet looks like a treasure map unfolding on both sides.

Screenshot of Sarah Tu / CNET

TCL is not close to launching a mobile phone. Strait said in an interview before the show that the company is still working on improving the mechanics of its prototype.

Samsung also reportedly has its own mobile prototype, according to ET News (via Tom’s Guide), and Oppo has unveiled a mobile concept called the Oppo X 2021.

Despite the pandemic, LG did not stop experimenting last year when it launched in the fall Lg wing, a strange phone with one screen stacked on top of another, capable of rotating horizontally, creating a substantially T-shaped display. Unusual as it may sound, CNET editor Lynn La said he actually helped with multitasking and video recording.

Even if it wasn’t a huge hit, it pushed the industry in a different direction.

Making folding more affordable

After years of annoying wild prototypes, TCL is finally ready to enter the folding game. While the company was a parent for folding items during its presentation at CES, Strait said the company plans to release one this year at a price of $ 1,000.

“We are 100% convinced that this allows us to be very destructive,” Straight said in an interview with CES.

As a result, Strait said the first folding will use more conventional design than the wilder concepts we’ve already seen. This suggests a design like the flip phone we’ve seen from Samsung and Motorola. These types of devices are available at lower price levels than larger folding screens such as the Galaxy Z Fold 2 or Huawei Mate X.


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Similarly, Samsung hinted at even more folding in 2021.

“The Z Fold2 has been hailed as a smartphone that rethinks what’s possible with mobile technology, and I’m excited to say it’s just a hint of what’s to come as we continue to explore, develop and expand this changing category,” said TM Roch. president of mobile communications for Samsung, in a blog post.

This coincides with ET News’s report that Samsung has four folders coming this year, including two variants, each with its own Flip and Fold lineups.

The breadth of folding phones offered suggests that this will not be just an exhibition or a one percent toy, and we will all be able to understand where the phones are moving in the next few years.


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