Samsung's rolling screen technology will allow slide-out panels for phones that look better, cost less and last longer than Galaxy Z Fold phones.
Samsung is the leading foldable phone manufacturer but when its rollable technology hits the market, it will likely be in much greater demand. After years of teases from various manufacturers and a few unfortunate mistakes with early products, the folding phone is now a reality, proving to be both durable and useful enough to generate significant interest. There are rumors circulating around a Galaxy Z Fold 4 coming in 2022, but the most exciting flexible screen phone in the future will have a sliding panel with a screen that rolls up inside.
Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Z Fold 3 have updated screen technology and improved hinges that allow the device to be waterproof. The display is 80-percent more durable than the previous generation, according to Samsung. The Z Fold 3 even stood up to a rigorous, yet unscientific test that involved a copious amount of dirt, a box cutter, and scratching tools. The phone can be scratched and the plastic coating on the main screen is particularly vulnerable. However, the device is strong and can take a beating.
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Samsung has patent documents describing phones with sliding panels and rollable display components that provide a whole new concept for expanding screens. While folding phones are easier to understand and seem simpler, there are some inherent drawbacks to folding that can be solved by rolling the display on an inner scroll. Display analyst Ross Young tweeted a very convincing argument in favor of a rollable phone. While the flexible screen technology used in the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is very good, a crease is still visible where the display folds. Young pointed out that rollable displays wouldn't have a problem with a center crease. This is probably a good enough argument by itself, yet there are other compelling reasons to switch to a slide instead of a fold.
This is why rollable will be popular as the crease will be at the edges...
Some early folding phones placed the flexible screen on the outside, which is a mistake since it is easily damaged. Samsung chose to put the Z Fold's main display inside so it would be protected when folded. That means that a secondary screen is needed for normal phone use. With a sliding phone, it would look just like a regular phone until it's expanded. Since the display extension would slide out from an edge, there would be no need for a secondary, outside cover screen like the Z Fold 3 has, potentially reducing cost.
The Z Fold 3 uses ultra-thin glass (UTG) so that the display doesn't push inward when touched and a special S Pen can even be used with this foldable phone. The drawback to UTG is that it can develop catastrophic cracks from even a tiny scratch. Glass has to be remarkably thin to fold in half, but the relatively large curvature of glass wrapped on an internal scroll, might allow it to be made thicker, potentially eliminating the need for an easily scratched plastic cover. That makes Samsung's possible rollable phone much more durable, exciting, and useful than another Z Fold.
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Alan is a Tech Writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. A tech-enthusiast since his youth, Alan stays current on what is new and what is next. With over 30 years experience with computer, video and photo equipment, you can expect useful tips and insights in his writing. Alan has a degree in programming, many years focused on design, editing and animation. The last few years managing logistics and e-commerce operations for a mobile accessories company took much of his time. Alan is a true jack of all digital trades in this ever changing computer-enriched world. To stay flexible in thinking and in body, he practices yoga, light cardio and eats a whole food diet, based on minimally processed plants.