Before LG exited the smartphone market, it was making weird and wonderful smartphones that the public rudely almost uniformly ignored. There was the modular LG G5 which you could upgrade by adding bits, and the LG Wing which had a second screen to unfold without any real purpose.
But its last big play was set to be the most ambitious of all. The LG Rollable: a seemingly normal smartphone with a screen that could stretch to tablet proportions via a clever rolling mechanism.
LG left the market before it was released, but a new video from Korean tech reviewer BullsLab shows how close the weird handset was to showtime. The clever self-referential packaging was even done, as you can see at the 45-second mark.
The whole video is worth watching as it shows exactly how LG had tuned the Android software to work with the unique hardware. Swiping three fingers on the screen kicks the screen motor into action (a motor strong enough to move a pile of hefty books as we see at the 5:46 mark) and the UI automatically reacts to its new aspect ratio. Icons spread out, the background wallpaper adapts, and YouTube even immediately switches to the tablet version to compensate.
Because the extra screen space is wrapped around the back when not expanded, you can also use it as a rear screen as seen from 8:19 onwards. There are various widgets — a calendar, stopwatch, music controls and so on — but the most useful is the camera widget which allows you to use the superior rear camera for selfies while still getting a preview of what’s in shot.
Whether this is a more desirable solution than folding phones that turn into tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 isn’t a straightforward question. For one thing, we don’t know how much this would have cost, and while foldables have a finite number of folds, it’s not clear whether a phone with fragile moving parts is much better.
All the same, it’s a real shame that LG didn’t get a chance to put out one more weird handset before throwing in the towel.