Is the era of rollable OLED screens coming soon?

Jitendra Soni
Oppo Rollable phone

Rollable displays have been around for a while, but haven’t broken into our living rooms quite yet. But, it’s high time that we embraced our rollable OLED future.

At almost every major tech trade show, whether that be IFA, CES, or MWC – displays are the center of attraction. As display makers offer a glimpse of the future, various brands show off prototypes of devices designed to amaze. But, they’re mostly limited to concept products, never to be released.

One such piece of tech is rollable OLED displays, which we’ve seen at almost all tech trade shows for several years running. However, apart from a handful of devices, we’ve yet to see a practical commercial implementation.

You might remember LG’s rollable OLED TV, which first wowed everyone at CES 2019 to only make its way out in late 2020. However, it cost a fortune – $87,000, to be precise, for a 65-inch rollable OLED TV. Given the price, only a handful were known to be produced out of South Korea.

A couple of years later, LG is still iterating on the concept. But, it still has its caveats. It is so exclusive that while LG’s official site lists the TV, it doesn’t bear a price, nor can you actually buy one.

So, if TVs are out of the picture, what about other product categories?


Moving over to smartphones – another category that has been experimenting with rollable displays. We saw the first ever “glimpse” of a phone with a rollable display – thanks to TCL in 2020. While this was just a concept, it gave us an idea of what to expect from devices in the future.

The future arrived sooner than we thought, and a flurry of “concept” phones from the likes of Oppo, TCL, and even LG were showcased. Despite flashy videos and concept devices being available for people to go hands-on with, none of them have yet made it to market.

At the same time, phones with a foldable display have become mainstream. You have Samsung gearing up to launch the sixth generation of foldable phones soon. Similarly, brands like Google, Oppo, OnePlus, Motorola, Xiaomi, Honor, and others have released foldable phones in either clamshell or folio-type designs. In fact, you also have a bunch of laptops with foldable displays, and even Apple is rumored to be working on a foldable iPhone and iPad.

What happened to rollable phones?

While the idea behind a rollable or foldable phone is the same – They both offer users a larger display on demand, we haven’t seen any mainstream brand committing to a rollable display device. Imagine carrying a smartphone with a display slightly bigger than a business card. Then, with a swipe of a finger, it automatically enlarges into a larger device, ideal for content consumption.

With another swipe, it can shrink to its original size, which is best for calls, messages, and other mundane tasks. You can even have a device that can unfold horizontally to give you a tablet-sized display. As such, the options are unlimited, but we haven’t seen any practical implementations from any brands yet.

One of the biggest reasons behind this delay is that the manufacturers are still trying to figure out the technical challenges involved. A rollable display needs more moving parts than its foldable counterparts. This means there is a higher chance of either the display getting damaged, or the mechanisms failing altogether.

Even foldable devices aren’t perfected quite yet. If you look closely at any foldable phone or laptop, there’s a noticeable crease where the screen folds. This crease only gets prominent over time. In the case of a rollable OLED display, there is no specific bending point, which means that you won’t see a crease, but there is a larger area of the OLED panel that, if folded and unfolded, adds to the fragility of the display.

Are rollable displays ready for prime time?

The initial implementations of rollable OLED displays had issues with color reproduction, as unlike glass on a regular display, rollable panels use multiple layers of plastic to reproduce images, which impacts the output.

Samsung, one of the biggest OLED display makers globally, has demoed a few working use cases of rollable OLED displays over the last few years. At the CES earlier this year, the South Korean brand showed off a rollable display for cars, hinting that much work is happening in the background.

Rollable OLED displays might still be a while off, but they’re far from being a dead technology. But, as consumers, we will just have to play the waiting game until they’re ready for mass market adoption.

About The Author

Jitendra loves writing about tech, especially smartphones. He has almost 10 years of experience. He spearheaded the TechRadar India editorial operations and has written for TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Free Press Journal, Mobile Scout, IB Times Singapore, Indulge Express, and more. He can be reached at