Where are the rollable OLED smartphones?

In early 2021 we hoped that by the end of the year, we'll see some commercial rollable OLED smartphones. LG Electronics aimed to be the first company to release such a advice, hoping to launch it in early 2021.

Later in 2021 LG Electronics closed its smartphone business, and the rollable OLED phone project was scrapped. LG is still offering the rollable OLED TV, but this uses a completely different production process, and is extremely pricey (it is likely that LG only shipped a handful of these TVs to date).

The producer of the rollable display in LG's phone was BOE (and not LG Display). BOE also supplied its rollable display to other makers, for example to Oppo which unveiled the Oppo X, a rollable OLED smartphone in November 2020. This phone, did not see the light of day (yet).

Many people believed that following LG's rollable phone announcement, other companies will also plan to launch such phones commercially, and could do this in 2021, but this did not happen. It could be that the production challenges of rollable OLEDs are indeed more difficult to overcome than estimated. We do not know, but we hope that 2022 will be the year when the first such phones are released. In the rest of the article, we'll detail some rollable OLED projects by leading OLED makers, besides BOE.

Samsung has been developing rollable technologies for many years, and in February 2021 it confirmed that the company is developing rollable OLED displays, and that it will start mass producing such displays later in 2021. Of course the year ain't over yet, but we're doubtful if we'll see SDC starting commercial production in the next two months.

In October 2020 TCL's CSoT demonstrated some new rollable OLED technologies, and in CES 2021 the company published this nice video you see below that again demonstrates new rollable OLEDs. TCL first shows a rollable smartphone, (7.8-inch AMOLED) and then a 17-inch rollable OLED - suitable for rollable tablets.

Later in 2021, TCL unveiled an interesting new smartphone prototype (concept?) called the Fold ‘n’ Roll. The device has a 6.87-inch OLED display when fully folded. It can open up (out-folding) into a 8.85-inch display, and then it can open even further to a 10-inch tablet-like device using a rolling mechanism. The display itself is produced by TCL's CSoT subsidiary.

Other companies that have shown rollable OLED panel prototypes recently including Visionox, AU Optronics and Tianma.

Posted: Nov 14,2021 by Ron Mertens