Samsung is reportedly not that interested in rollable phones, here's why

Samsung Slidable Oled Display
(Image credit: Samsung Display)

What you need to know

  • Samsung is likely uninterested in making commercial rollable phones soon, an analyst predicts.
  • Given the perceived limitations of rollable phones, Samsung is said to focus only on its foldable phones.
  • The analyst further implies that foldable screens are more feasible than slidable/rollable displays.

Samsung may be putting slidable phones on the back burner to focus its efforts on foldable phones.

At CES 2022, Samsung showcased its interesting display technologies aside from the foldable phones that it already makes. They included concepts like Flex S and Flex G, which have multiple foldable displays. The other interesting one was the Flex Slidable concept, in which the display rolls out to extend the existing screen size.

The concept looks appealing and resembles devices like OPPO X 2021 and the canceled LG Rollable. Samsung, however, is reportedly not too interested in making slidable/rollable phones, says Yi Choong-hoon, CEO and top analyst of Seoul-based display market tracker UBI Research at a conference (via The Korea Herald).

"The market for foldable phones overlaps with that for slidable phones. It will be difficult for slidable phones to create its own market."

According to Choong-hoon, Samsung is uninterested in rollable technology and will instead focus on what it does best: foldable devices. This means investing resources and R&D in making foldable devices better year after year, which we've seen with recent iterations of Samsung foldable like the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Z Flip 4. The analyst further points out a lukewarm market next to certain limitations that rollable phones have as opposed to foldable ones.

The cited limitations on slidable displays involve the colorless polyamide film, which protects the slidable display on top. This can apparently affect the quality of the display's surface. In addition, digitizers found in wide-screen phones apparently cannot function on rollable devices.

Over the years, users have become accustomed to using foldable phones from not just Samsung but from other companies like OPPO, Motorola, and Xiaomi, to name a few. The analyst says foldable screens are more feasible than slidable/rollable displays.

"For consumers who are familiar with folding phones like a book, sliding the screen may feel more complicated," Yi said. "For the same reason, the slidable display is unlikely to be used for laptops. But for tablet PCs, the entry barrier seems lower than other devices."

On the contrary, last month, at Lenovo Tech World 2022, Motorola's rollable phone was demonstrated next to a laptop, which also features a slidable screen. In both cases, the rollable screen extends out vertically instead of horizontally orientation, as witnessed in the previous concepts from other OEM makers.

As outlined earlier, other rollable phones like OPPO X 2021 are yet to go mainstream, differentiating them from Samsung. Similar concepts have been witnessed earlier from brands like Xiaomi with the Mi Alpha R. Analyst, however, dismisses the possibility of such competition to catch up with Samsung. 

"Samsung Display has secured an unrivaled competitiveness, especially on related patents and production know-how. It won't be easy for Chinese rivals to compete head-on," he said.

"Chinese smartphone makers may seek to launch slidable phones in an attempt to differentiate themselves from Samsung. But the market potential seems limited."

Vishnu works as a freelance News Writer for Android Central. For the past four years, he's been writing about consumer technology, primarily involving smartphones, laptops, and every other gizmo connected to the Internet. When he is away from keyboard, you can see him going on a long drive or chilling on a couch binge-watching some crime series.