Samsung’s been working for years on a folding phone with a flexible display that can fold in half, letting you use a single mobile device as either a phone or a tablet. But it’s not clear if or when that device will make it to market.

It looks like the company may not be putting all its eggs in one basket though: the folks at Patently Mobile noticed that Samsung has also filed a for a patent on a different type of phone/tablet hybrid.

Instead of a display that folds in half, this model has a rollable display hat slides our when you pull rom the sides, giving you more screen space when you need it.

Flexible displays are already pretty common. They’re used in phones with curved displays like Samsung’s recent Galaxy S and Galaxy Note models… but while the screens are flexible, the phones themselves are rigid. Designing a phone that actually folds around the display presents some pretty big challenges which could be sidestepped by a phone with a rollable display that slides out (you don’t need the batter or case to fold, for example).

That said, Samsung’s been working on its folding phone for a long time and I suspect the company isn’t ready to give up on the idea anytime soon.

Just because the company applied for a patent on a rollable design doesn’t mean Samsung will bring a phone with this type of expandable display to market. But it is an interesting idea.

Note: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that patent seems to show a screen that rolls up rather than a devoice with three separate displays, where two slide out from behind the second screen).

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6 replies on “Samsung Patent application describes phablet with slide-out displays”

  1. Yeah, I think I agree with jjj.

    At first it looked like three displays that slide in and stack. But after looking at all the illustrations, it appears that isn’t the case.

    It appears the left and right sides of the display would use a flexible display technology. The rounded side cylinders allow for them to be wrapped around and stored into the back of the device.

    At first I thought maybe they rolled up on the cylinders like a paper scroll, but in the end view illustration you can see the sides only roll over those rollers and end up (mostly) flat stored in the back.

      1. But it’s not really rollable, the display doesn’t roll around the side cylinders, it’s pseudo-rollable or hybrid foldable/rollable.
        It’s interesting though, vs double folding. They can even reduce bezels to almost nothing but everything has to be done without making the phone very thick and with horrible battery life when unfolded.
        If you take a 70mm wide phone display with 20:9 AR, that’s 155.55mm height and with such a solution, you end up with a 210mm by 155.5 mm display. AR would be almost 4:3 and the diagonal almost 10.3 inch so a proper tablet.

  2. You got it wrong, it’s a single foldable display but they fold it on both sides.You can also call it pseudo-rollable.
    This gives you 3x the display area vs 2+ with traditional foldable but puts a lot more stress on the display.,requires a lot of mechanical volume and sizable side bezels.
    With normal foldable you can also use either side in phone mode as there doesn’t have to be any difference at all.
    The upside is that phones with stretchable displays could use a similar system.
    Anyway, the system has an advantage over rollable, early on when when the bend radius is limited and rollable is not possible.

    1. The way it is right now, it’s incomplete, unfolding is easy but folding it back in is a pain. Easy to solve but noticeable issue.

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