Samsung Rumored to Launch First 'Rollable' Foldable Phone Later This Year
Samsung will add a third foldable device to its smartphone lineup this year that will likely feature a unique rollable form factor, according to a reliable leaker of Samsung's plans.
The existing Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Galaxy Z Fold 3 have been relatively successful additions to Samsung's smartphone family, and the company reportedly plans to ship over 10 million foldables in 2022 with successor models to the Flip 3 and Fold 3, along with a third unnamed addition to its foldable lineup.
The codenames that Samsung is using internally for the models expected this year are said to include B4, Q4, and N4, with B4 and Q4 believed to relate to the Z Flip 4 and Z Fold 4, respectively, and the N4 referring to a completely new device.
Mobile leaker @UniverseIce, who is a well-regarded source of Samsung rumors, today claimed that Samsung's third foldable device is set for release in the second half of the year. However, the leaker believes the codename of the new device is in fact "Diamond" and says it has a "high probability" of having a rollable form factor. Responding to the claim, reputable display analyst Ross Young said he last heard that production of the device had been pushed out beyond 2022, and that he would now seek to confirm if that was still an accurate assessment.
Rollable/slidable phones don't yet exist on the consumer market, but plenty of concept devices have been advertised by mobile makers as they search for the next big innovation in smartphone technology. The Oppo X is a case in point. It used a motorized powertrain mechanism to unroll or extend the screen uniformly while avoiding visible kinks or folds in the display.
The Oppo X 2021 was the first rollable phone that was expected to come to market, but the device was never made available, although Oppo apparently has plans to release an updated version this year. Samsung also showed off a concept smartphone with a slidable OLED display in 2021, but it wasn't tied to a real consumer product launch.
Apple has explored rollable displays in the past, based on patents from the company. In March 2020, a patent attributed to Apple appeared on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that describes an "Electronic device with flexible display structures."
The patent details a flexible display that can be wrapped around one or more internal roller mechanisms, allowing the screen to expand out of the chassis. A rigid section remains to house the printed circuit boards and other electronic components, but with the addition of the rollable display layers.
"Elongated bistable support members may run along the edges of the display or may be overlapped by a central active area of the display to help stiffen and support the display in its extended position," explains the patent, which conceives the technology as adaptable to anything from a smartphone to a smartwatch.
As with all Apple patents, there's no indication that Apple has plans to bring such a device to market, but it is interesting to see what sorts of future solutions Apple is eyeing as it seeks to innovate beyond current consumer-use technologies and compete with future generations of devices with hybrid form factors.