Motorola's Rollable Phone Concept Points to a Wild Future

This bizarre transforming phone unrolls at the press of a button.

Andrew Lanxon Editor At Large, Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
Expertise Smartphones | Photography | iOS | Android | Gaming | Outdoor pursuits Credentials
  • Shortlisted for British Photography Awards 2022, Commended in Landscape Photographer of the Year 2022
Andrew Lanxon
2 min read
Andrew Lanxon/CNET

Motorola made a big impression in 2020 with its clamshell-folding Razr, and it's taken the flexible display to new heights at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The Motorola rollable phone concept has a display that wraps around the bottom of the phone. That rolled-up screen can then automatically extend outwards to create a bigger display, or roll away and provide a handy second screen. 

Take a look at the phone in action.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

I got my hands on the phone and although it's just a proof of concept, it actually works. Double-pressing a button on the side unrolls the phone, with the display extending beyond the top edge to create a larger 16:9 display. Double press again and it gently slides its way back in. 

Certain apps will trigger the transformation automatically: If you're watching a YouTube video and turn the phone into a horizontal position, as the YouTube app automatically flips orientation, the display will also extend outwards, providing a bigger surface to immerse you more in your content of choice. 

In my demo, I also saw how the phone will remain in its smaller mode when swiping through your emails, but tapping "Compose" triggers the screen to extend, providing more room for the keyboard. 

When it's in its small mode, the screen wraps around the back of the phone and can function as a second display. You can use it to check the weather, incoming notifications or other information. Fire up the camera and that rear display becomes a viewfinder for taking selfies. 

Andrew Lanxon/CNET
Andrew Lanxon/CNET

It's a cool concept and it was genuinely exciting seeing the phone transform in my hand. I have concerns about the durability of the display when it extends, though. It's extremely thin when it pokes over the top of the phone, and it feels like it could very easily take damage. But those are exactly the sort of kinks that will get worked out throughout the concept stage. 

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

Motorola isn't saying whether this phone will ever go on sale, or how much we could expect to have to pay if it ever did. And while it has multiple cameras, the company isn't elaborating on those cameras' specs -- or, indeed, any key specs of the phone itself. So for now, if you're into bendy phone screens, check out our list of the best foldable phones you can actually buy

Andrew Lanxon/CNET
Andrew Lanxon/CNET