LG Rollable makes a splash at CES, sales could start later this year

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LG Rollable makes a splash at CES, sales could start later this year

LG Rollable seen during LG Electronics' 2021 CES presentation on Monday. [LG ELECTRONICS]

LG Rollable seen during LG Electronics' 2021 CES presentation on Monday. [LG ELECTRONICS]

 
After months of speculation, LG Electronics finally offered a first glimpse of its long-rumored rollable smartphone in an eight-second clip aired at the end of its CES 2021 presentation on Monday.
 
LG teased the smartphone, which it has officially confirmed will be called the LG Rollable, in the short clip, showing a man watching the presentation on a tablet-sized device that slowly shrinks to the size of a smartphone — presumably as the rollable portion of the display is retracted into the body of the device.
 
LG has confirmed that the device shown in the video is a prototype, not a computer-generated image.
 
Besides the name of the smartphone and the fact that a prototype exists and appears to work, the electronics maker has barely confirmed any details including the timeframe for mass production and sales as well as the price range of the device.
 
But industry insiders see the second quarter as the time for mass production with sales likely to begin in the second half of this year.  
 
“China’s BOE is supplying the screen to LG,” said Yi Choong-hoon, head of display-focused market tracker UBI Research. “BOE’s volume production of the rollable display was set for March but has been delayed to June.”
 
Based on the footage, experts speculate that the device will have a 6.8-inch display that expands to 7.4 inches when the display is unfurled.
 
LG is not alone in betting on the new form factor that unfurls like a scroll.
 
Chinese manufacturer TCL has brought its own prototypes to the CES trade show twice — in 2020 and 2021 — while Dongguan, Guangdong–based smartphone producer OPPO also showcased one in 2020.
 
“The underlying technology works in a similar way across LG, TCL and OPPO,” said Kim Young-woo, an analyst at SK Securities. “Although people will likely place higher expectations on LG.”
 
“The key to success is whether it can resize the screen ratio of applications on the user interface as users switch between different sizes of the display.”
 
LG Electronics is banking on the upcoming rollable smartphone to turn around its struggling smartphone business while taking its shot at foldable smartphone, a segment largely dominated by Samsung Electronics.
 
The company’s smartphone business division has posted losses for 22 consecutive quarters, which means it hasn't made a profit since the second quarter of 2015.
 
BY PARK EUN-JEE   [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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