Samsung has Patented a Rollable TV Display to Compete with LG

Mike Wheatley

Samsung could steal the thunder from its rival LG at next week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with its own take on a ‘rollable’ TV display.


On Christmas Day, the company quietly published a patent for a new style of rollable display technology that differs from anything we've seen before.

Samsung’s patent is distinct as it details a horizontal rolling display rather than the vertical design used by LG. The display is held up by two vertical rollers at either end, and effectively wraps itself up around these two pillars when it’s retracted.

The design also incorporates a third, central support located behind the display that’s apparently used as a support and to help keep the screen flat. When the display is retracted fully into the end pillars, the central support fits snugly between the two rollers and remains hidden from view.

To date, LG’s rollable display technology appears to be far more developed than Samsung’s. LG first unveiled a concept rollable display that was witnessed by HDTVTest during last year’s CES show (see video below). The prototype, which sported a 65-inch OLED display, was able to roll up and then retract in a vertical direction similar to a mechanised projector screen, with the operations being controlled via remote. The prototype also featured three aspect ratios – including a 16:9 full screen; a 2.35.1 cinemascope, and also a shorter infobar used to display media such as a sound equalizer or various applications including weather apps.

It's not immediately clear what advantages Samsung's rollable display would bring over LG's vertical design, though it would presumably also be able to offer different aspect ratios. Perhaps, the design could also be adapted so the display moves along a curve, giving users the option of a traditional flat screen or a curved screen to watch movies on.

In any case, LG is said to have been working hard to commercialise its rollable OLED display ever since showing off that prototype last year, and a recent report from Bloomberg quoted anonymous sources from the company as saying a product would be released at CES 2019. LG hasn’t said anything officially so far, but Bloomberg has a habit of getting these things right.

Whether or not Samsung will also unveil a rollable TV display at this year’s CES remains to be seen. On the one hand, the company has undoubtedly made big advances in foldable display tech, having unveiled a prototype smartphone with similar capabilities last summer. That device, rumoured to be called the “Galaxy X” or “Galaxy F”, can be folded together similarly to a book, and is set to be launched early this year, according to reports.

But a rollable TV display would be an altogether different proposition. The big problem for Samsung is that rollable displays can only be made using OLED display panels. With LCD panels it just isn’t possible, as these cannot be built with any degree of flexibility, whereas OLED can.

Samsung is of course the world’s biggest supplier of OLED displays for smartphones, but with TVs it’s a much different story. The company has struggled for years to compete with LG when it comes larger-sized OLED display panels as its manufacturing process is quite different, and recent reports say that it’s still some way off perfecting that process. As a result, LG continues to supply the vast majority of OLED panels for the TV industry.

With that in mind it seems highly unlikely Samsung would be able to come up with anything more than a concept design for this year’s CES at best.