LG will reportedly showcase a rollable OLED TV and a foldable phone at next year’s CES event which is due to take place in January, 2019. This information on this has come from a new report out of Engadget which credits “seen internal documents” that apparently detail the various product categories LG will be exhibiting at the event. Although besides the information on the appearance of the products at the event, no further details have been provided.
Background: In itself, the suggestion LG will present a rollable OLED TV at CES is barely even news as the company first started demonstrating this display technology at the same event in 2016. Even more recently, LG demonstrated a more fuller and padded out product at last year’s CES event that uses the same technology. So on its own the fact that LG will once again show off a rollable display is probably more of an expectation, than a surprise. However, what’s worth noting here is the report suggests the internal documents that have been seen allude to the likelihood the rollable display will be a lot more integral to the event proceedings. In other words, it might not just be on show like it has been in the past, but might be one of the products leading the company’s main presentation. Which in turn is adding to the further suggestion the product is now in a more market-ready state and LG might be planning to use CES 2019 as a precursor to the rollable OLED TVs going on general sale later in the same year. This would mark a significant change in the rollable display lifespan to date, with the technology moving firmly out of the prototype stage and to a consumer product state. Furthermore, if 2019 is the year in which LG makes its rollable OLED TVs readily available then this would also highlight an accelerated time-frame as based on 2017 reports it has previously been expected 2020 was when LG would begin mass production of these displays - specifically 55 and 75-inch versions.
Although there are no new details on what the TV that will be on show at the upcoming event has to offer, the previous version exhibited at this year’s CES event provides enough background information to work with. For example, during CES 2018 the TV was a 4K 65-inch model. As to be expected with a rollable OLED panel, the user is able to hide the display completely by pushing a button which essentially lowers the display portion into a collapsed state which is then housed within the bottom non-display portion of the device. While this was the main version on show during the event, it was not the only variant demoed as there were other flavors of the same technology including one option which is able to provide notifications when the display is hidden away. Therefore it could be the case LG plans to demo more variations and use cases of the technology at the event in January, as well as different sized options. Especially if the product is now nearing a more consumer-ready place.
As for the foldable phone, once again there are no particle noteworthy details offered in this latest report other than the confirmation the foldable phone will be in attendance. However, this confirmation has come just days after the exact same suggestion was made by frequent tipster Evan Blass. Therefore, when the two separate reports are taking together, it does seem increasingly likely that they are accurate and that an LG foldable phone will indeed be shown off during the company’s main keynote presentation. Arguably, the fact the foldable phone is reportedly detailed in these internal documents, alongside the rollable OLED TV, also further adds to the validity of the rollable OLED TV point.
Impact: As already mentioned, LG has often used the annual CES event as a means to showcase developing products and technologies and so the idea this will happen once again at the next event does not necessarily change anything. However, it would stand to reason that LG is preparing to move both of these display technologies closer to the consumer product level and that could prove very impacting on the industry. Especially considering it’s not only LG who is working on new display form factors as Samsung is also largely expected to unveil its own foldable smartphone at some point in the near future - possible also at CES 2019. In terms of Samsung's solution, a report out earlier today suggests the company's so-called Galaxy F phone is already being tested at the carrier level which highly indicates Samsung's solution is also getting very closer to hitting the market and becoming generally available. If both foldable phones, and the rollable TV are being readied for consumer use then it would seem likely 2019 will prove to be a big year for display technologies and form factors in general. As these will only likely be the first of many products utilizing new display form factors to come from these companies, as well as the various other brands who are also likely working on their own solutions. Making 2019 an interesting year not only at the smartphone level, but also the TV level, and presumably for other product categories where a company can additionally utilize a flexible display.
Of course, regardless of whether a company like LG decides to commercially launch products like its rollable OLED TV or its foldable phone in 2019, that’s not quite the same as saying those products will suddenly start to show up in people’s homes and hands. If anything, the opposite is more likely to be true considering these new technologies are likely to be fairly costly at first which will inevitably price many consumers out of consideration. On that point, in spite of LG showing off its rollable display technology in various stages of development over the years, as well as the suggestion a rollable OLED TV might now be ready for consumer consumption, there’s been no details coming through on how much a display like this will likely cost.