You've seen them fold in half to create little 'clamshells'; you've seen them unfold to create mini-tablets, and soon you'll see foldable phones extend their body and unfurl their displays to create bigger screens. A patent for such a Samsung sliding phone has been unearthed, showing what the company's take on the concept could look like.
As found by LetsGoDigital, this patent was filed by the company in March 2020 and published January 2021. It shows the phone from all angles, and also provides a closer look at the internal mechanisms that would create such a sliding effect.
By the looks of it, the phone would have a roughly Samsung Galaxy S21-sized body, but if you triggered a certain function (perhaps in the phone's menus, though this isn't specified), gears would let the phone body grow wider, with the display sliding out to the left and right.
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The patent doesn't include measurements, but it looks like the phone's width would roughly double, while its height would remain the same, giving twice the overall screen space. That's a lot of growth, but the internal moving components would likely be quite delicate as a result of their complexity.
Since this patent was filed in March 2020, it's clear the company has been working on it for a while, but we'd imagine Samsung has loads of different types of sliding and rolling phones in the works, with this being just one such example. Patents are only confirmation a company is considering a gadget though, not that it'll ever come out.
Roll with it
At CES 2021 we saw two new concept rolling phones from LG and TCL - both of these had previously been teased, but arguably the January event is when interest really kicked off for 'foldable phones' that don't fold but slide or roll.
We're expecting other companies to be working on such formats too, especially Samsung, which is currently the dominant player in the foldables market. The brand has its Z Flip and Z Fold lines, and rumors suggest it's working on creating a third line with phones that modify in a different way.
It's worth pointing out that neither TCL's rolling phone or the LG Rollable have a firm release date - while LG originally stated its version would go on sale in 2021, it swiftly backtracked that statement. So at time of writing, there are no rollable smartphones confirmed for launch.
Samsung could be the first if it puts out such a device soon. We'll have to wait and see what the company shows us through the rest of 2021 to find out if we do see the Samsung Galaxy Z Roll or Z Slide though.
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Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.
He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.