The advent of flexible OLED screens has let the smartphone industry experiment with some pretty unorthodox form factors. While foldables have slowly been creeping into the mainstream, companies like Oppo have been playing with rollable designs. Following its showcase as a concept last fall, some lucky users are getting an early chance to go hands-on with the Oppo X 2021.
Seeing the Oppo X in action with its slowly expanding display is pretty impressive looking. All it takes is a swipe on the left side or a double tap on a button to unfurl the full 7.4-inch display (1785 x 2592 pixels). That size isn’t a crazy jump up from 6.7 inches in the retracted state, but the additional horizontal space sure does free up more room for on-screen content, much like a tablet. When rolled up, the X looks like a normal-enough smartphone, though the delicate, flexible panel remains exposed all the time.
While the system interface seems decently optimized for keeping up with the expanding display in real time, certain apps can be seen glitching out for a split second while adjusting to the new aspect ratio. It’s still neat, considering this is a first-gen implementation, and things will only get better from here. There’s no visible crease on the screen, at least based on what we see in these videos.
Under the hood, a couple of motors push the phone frame out with the equal force to keep anything from breaking in the process. The screen tucks in on the curved left side and is supported by an interlocking metallic frame from underneath (pictured above). Even though this entire mechanism is said to be tested for thousands of times of regular use, motorized parts are still more susceptible to breakage than something stationary.
While these hands-on videos show Oppo’s increasing confidence in this rollable form factor, the X 2021 isn’t ready for the market just yet. Oppo hasn’t shared exactly when the phone might go up for grabs, but you can expect it to take at least a few months before the company is able to iron out any remaining wrinkles. In addition to Oppo, we're also looking forward to a rollable phone coming out this year from LG, which showcased its take on this design earlier this year at the CES.