Motorola has shown off a concept rollable phone on the eve of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and while it doesn’t have an official name yet – cough, Rizr, cough – or any kind of official release date, the concept phone was certainly not a figment of our imagination.
We got a great demo of it and you could say we got as up close and personal as we could. Here’s everything we saw and what we know about the concept device making foldable phones look like old news.
- 5-inch display to 6.5-inch display
- Double press to roll screen
Let’s first start with the name of the Motorola rollable concept. It currently doesn’t have an official one, but the concept device – which was first revealed during Lenovo Tech World towards the end of 2022 – had Rizr branding on the rear of the display as it rose up (see what we did there). That’s led many to assume it might take on that naming, which is very plausible when you consider the company’s history of naming devices.
The folding Razr that launched in 2019 took on the original Razr branding from 2004 when it launched, so it would make total sense that a rollable phone that unrolls upwards takes on the Rizr name from the original device that launched in 2006, also featuring a device that expanded vertically. That said, Motorola wouldn’t confirm any official name so we are all guessing for now.
Along with no name, Motorola hasn’t revealed a great deal of specifics about the rolling concept either – it’s a concept after all so it’s more about what can be achieved rather than the minute details. That said, we know snippets of information, and we know what the concept looks like in it’s current form and let’s just say it is so damn cute.
In its standard form, the Motorola rollable concept has a 5-inch display with a 15:9 aspect ratio. It reminds us of BlackBerry in terms of its boxy build and it’s lovely and small. Pocketable, like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4. There’s a little surprise when you double push the button at the top of the right edge though. While it might not fold out, it rolls out instead.
The 5-inch display – which is POLED – expands to a 6.5-inch 22:9 aspect ratio display, rolling up from the back of the device in a few seconds. It means you get a lovely curve at the bottom of the device – which had a case on it for the purpose of demonstrations – and when the screen isn’t rolled out, it sits on the rear, acting as a second display. The wallpaper on the display is interactive matching what the phone is doing.
When the display is expanded, you get a very thin excess display panel at the top – how well this will stand the test of time is not yet clear – but it looked strudy-ish. We would be concerned for the bottom of the device where the flexible display curves around though as without the protective casing, that POLED panel is very exposed and it surely wouldn’t take much to scratch it.
The display drops down slightly too in order to reveal a selfie camera and a speaker grille and it will do this automatically, like when you the front facing camera or a call comes in, but it’s not yet clear how much dust this would attract.
hardware and software
- Smart software features
- Some apps optimized
Elsewhere when it comes to clever software features, the Motorola rolling concept has several other tricks up its sleeve. Yes, a rolling display clearly wasn’t enough. A double flick of your wrist switches to the selfie camera from the main camera, for example, which is standard for Moto devices.
Some apps have been optimized for the concept too – like YouTube. If you have YouTube running in the normal screen mode and you roll the screen up and spin the phone round, the video will expand automatically. Meanwhile, if you open Gmail, the Motorola’s rolling display will automatically rise up, giving you the full screen to write your email.
Elsewhere on the software front, as the screen rolls up, apps and icons adjust accordingly moving from the rear of the device to the main screen. It’s smart and if Motorola gets the software right for this device, it could be really great.
In terms of hardware, again, there isn’t huge amounts of information floating around. There’s USB-C on the left edge, though it’s not yet known the specifics on the battery or what processor is running the show. Presumably this won’t be a cheap device if/when it launches so there will certainly need to be some decent hardware on board to make it justifiable beyond the rolling design.
Clearly, there are still a few questions surrounding the Motorola rolling concept device, but as a concept, it’s certainly an interesting one and we are here for it. It will be interesting to see what will appear under the hood, as well as what other clever software features Motorola will offer that could make good use of the rollable display, and of course how durable it will be. Foldable phones weren’t the best when they first launched, but all these ideas have to start somewhere.
If you want to see what future phones might look like though, this device might just be giving you a sneak preview and we are here for it.