LG is one of just a handful of top-tier smartphone manufacturers that haven’t announced a folding smartphone yet and the recent publication of no fewer than ten trademarks from the company, spotted by LetsGoDigital, might provide deeper insight why. The vast majority of the new trademarks, listed with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) point to gadgets that are meant to roll up instead of fold. They all also rather obviously point to smartphones or related accessories.
Among the more straightforward trademarks are marketing terms such as 'The Roll', 'Bi-Roll', 'Double Roll', 'Dual Roll', 'Roll Canvas', and 'E Roll'. Given the heavy use of the word "Roll," other designations filed around the same time for 'Signature R', 'R Screen', 'R Canvas', and 'Rotolo' would appear to point in the same direction. Trademark listings, while not automatically pointing to the imminent release of anything, would also suggest that the gadget or gadgets referred to are well into the research and development process.
Previous hints at a roll-up design
LG's patents and even its talk about the introduction of its first flexible flagship have, up until this point, been oriented around a straightforward folding device. That's the direction the company is expected to take in a future variation of the V-Series at any rate, based on statements made by LG executives.
The 'roll' designation does not, however, point in that direction and neither should it necessarily come as a surprise. Alongside the many patented designs held by LG in the folding phone segment, the company has repeatedly filed designs that are much more suitable for the designation in question as well.
Among the first of the rollable LG designs to be spotted was reported in late 2018, pointing to a device that unfurled like a scroll. Conceptually, that isn't too different from select LG television designs that have been appearing at various prominent events for several years now. Namely, the gadget would work almost identically to the LG SIGNATURE OLED TV R, expected to arrive for purchase this year.
The name of some gadgets trademarked hints that at least one of the devices in question could very easily be built around the same design but scaled back into a handset format instead but that isn't the only direction the company could go.
A folding phone that doesn't technically fold
Another patent spotted more recently points to an LG smartphone that expands from a user-perspective but which actually centers around a rolling mechanism that is out of sight from the user perspective. The mechanism in that design sucks in a portion of the display or releases it based on how the gadget is oriented.
A similar design built into a more traditional 'folder' would fit the resulting device into the appropriate category to match competitors while providing the company a way to avoid using similar naming conventions to those other companies.
The use of an alternative to the folding smartphone design leading the technology's charge into the mainstream would go a long way toward explaining the names listed in the newest trademarks from LG. It would also serve as a way for the Korean tech giant to differentiate the device from others being released by top Android OEMs such as Samsung and Huawei. Those companies presently hold a market lead -- and by a substantial margin -- giving LG plenty of incentive to find new ways to set itself apart when it does get in on the latest technology race.