LG has already proven that rollable screens can work with its Signature OLED R rollable TV, and an LG Rollable smartphone was meant to translate the tech into your palm, however, all plans have come to an abrupt stop.
The company had only teased the Rollable, even going so far as to include footage of the phone in action - so while we never learnt about its internal specs, we had an idea what the device might've looked like and the basics of how it would have worked.
Unfortunately, with LG formally shuttering its entire mobile business in a notice issued on 3 April, 2021, it seems as though the LG Rollable will never make it to market. But for LG employees based in its home market of South Korea, there is a strange silver lining to the situation.
When is the LG Rollable release date?
Prior to news of its mobile division ceasing operations, LG first teased the Rollable at the end of the Wing launch event in 2020, and the company confirmed to Nikkei Asia that it would launch the phone some time in 2021.
"Our management wanted to show that it is a real product, as there were many rumours around the rollable phone," LG spokesman Ken Hong said in the wake of the phone's CES tease. "As it is released at CES 2021, I can tell that it will be launched this year."
One source optimistically predicted that it would launch in March 2021. This was via Korean publication The Elec, which said a different phone under the codename ‘Rainbow’ would arrive first in Q1, with the Rollable to follow in March.
Meanwhile, another Korean blog said it would arrive 'after September,' which initially seemed like a more plausible time frame.
Is the LG Rollable going to come out?
Despite everything, the Rollable isn't going to launch. We discussed the implications of LG closing its mobile business before the company issued an official statement confirming the move on our Fast Charge podcast.
The last ounce of hope before LG placed the final nail in the coffin came when, in March 2021, the Rollable received Bluetooth SIG certification. This didn't really tell us anything about the device, except that it was destined to support Bluetooth 5.2, but this was part of the process phones normally only go through on the way to release, suggesting LG was pretty close to actually bringing the Rollable to market.
The aforementioned silver lining is that South Korea-based employees of LG's mobile division have apparently been given the opportunity to purchase both the unreleased Rollable and the "Rainbow" - destined to be the LG Velvet Pro 2 - according to tipster FrontTron.
MOAR LG STUFF— Tron ❂ (@FrontTron) May 17, 2021
LG Rollable also on sale to LG Korea MC devision employees, details unknown.
Due to high surge of popularity to the LG Rainbow, LG is considering to halt the sale of 3000 units of Rainbow that was set to be started today.
Maybe more production, more sales? 😎 pic.twitter.com/fkC0y6cp58
While pricing for the Rollable remains unknown, LG employees were apparently given the option to pick up a maximum of two LG Velvet Pro 2s each, priced at approximately US$176 apiece, from a pool of around 3000 devices. One caveat to their purchase is an inability to resell the devices on.
The number of available Rollable devices is assumed to be smaller and the price higher, but we don't yet have information on what that cost actually is.
How much will the LG Rollable cost?
As for retail pricing, had the phone actually launched, it’s unclear what the figure would have been for a phone like this, considering there are none on the market yet.
You can, however, bet that it would have been very expensive. We’ve seen the cost of foldable phones like the Motorola Razr 5G and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 at around £1,300 to £2,000 and a rollable phone could arguably fetch an even higher figure due to the complex nature of the technology.
GSMArena referenced a now-deleted tweet, claiming it would cost $2,560 in the US.
What are the LG Rollable specs?
LG only ever gave two brief glimpses of the device, the best of which came right at the end of the company's CES 2021 stream, when the company released a brief clip of the Rollable...well, rolling:
The brief clip shows a large, square-ish display that rolls down into more typical smartphone dimensions while playing back a video.
There are no specific specs, but one report claimed that the screen would measure 6.8in when closed, at a resolution of 1080x2428; extending to 7.4in when open, at 1600x2428.
It does look like it would have been similar to the Oppo X 2021 and TCL rollable concept devices. The Oppo X 2021 has a 6.7in display able to expand up to 7.4in, while the TCL version has a larger panel that expands to 7.8in.
Oppo says it has applied for 122 patents relating to the handset, with 12 specific to the scroll mechanism, so it would have been interesting to see how LG approached the engineering challengers associated with the form factor. It no doubt helped that the company already has rollable TV tech, but scaling it down to phone size must have been a whole other matter.
LG filed for several patents in the process of developing the Rollable, which provide a good idea of the designs the company considered. The most recent, via LetsGoDigital, is probably the best indication of what we could have expected from the final phone:
The design shows a rollable panel that extends out in one direction, similar to what was shown in LG's own video. There's no sign of any buttons on the device - though don't take that as a sign that the final phone would have been buttonless; it does feature a triple camera array on the rear, alongside a second rear display. Note that there's no selfie camera on the front, which explains the need for the rear screen.
This patent is quite different to two older designs, both also shared online by LetsGoDigital. The first shows a panel that extends from the centre - interesting, but clearly not what was shown in LG's official teaser video.
The second patent is arguably even wilder, extending from two separate central points so that you can pull it out in either direction. Again, it's a cool design, but definitely different to what was intended to be the final design.
We've got no idea what chipset, camera, or other specs LG was planning on squeezing into the Rollable, but we had expected them to be fairly high-end, if not absolute top of the line. Alas, now we'll be left wondering indefinitely.