After playing with Motorola’s Rizr, I’m excited for a rollable future

This rollable isn't ready for consumers yet, but I'm excited about the technology

I recently got my hands on the Rizr, Motorola’s unique rollable prototype smartphone, during a trip to the company’s headquarters in Chicago, where I also tested the Moto G 5G, the Motorola Edge+ and the Moto G Stylus.

The Rizr is a strange phone. We weren’t explicitly told most of its specs, but I can confirm it features a 5-inch display with a 15:9 aspect ratio that expands vertically into a 6.5-inch handset with a 22:9 aspect ratio.

It’s worth noting that the Rizr probably will never come to market, and there are only about 20 in the world.

To roll up or down the screen, you double-tap on the device’s power button, then, like magic, the 5-inch screen expands. I did this repeatedly to see if I could get it to stutter while expanding, but I was unsuccessful.

The panel wraps around the bottom of the screen, leaving a small section of the display where you can use the Rizr as a viewfinder for the rear-facing camera or to check your notifications. Strangely, the selfie camera and the earpiece for phone calls are behind the main display, and whenever you want to take a picture or make a call, the display rolls down.

I liked that the device starts to expand whenever you start to watch content on YouTube, automatically giving users the full 6.5-inch display. Motorola’s email app also causes the display to expand, offering more space to type.

We learned that Motorola is testing the Rizr out with regular users in order to get feedback about the device. Considering its size, I asked the company whether the design was made with smaller users in mind. However, Motorola indicated that everyone will appreciate the small 5-inch screen size. And I understand why, as the tiny rollable sits perfectly in your hand and is usable regardless of how big they are.

Motorola asked if this was a handset I’d consider purchasing, and I quickly said that I wouldn’t because I didn’t feel like this smartphone was made for me. I gravitate towards big phones, and I love it when they can become even larger, like Samsung’s foldable Galaxy Fold 4. However, the more I think about possible use cases for the Razir, the more I’ve reconsidered my stance.

It would be nice to have a smaller device in my pocket than a phone with a fixed 6.7-inch display, and I’ve recently become more interested in reducing the size of the products I carry around daily. For instance, I’d much rather have a smaller iPad mini over a larger one, and even when I was attending this briefing, I brought only my iPad mini and a wireless Apple keyboard.

While I still love giant foldables, carrying a smaller handset like this could be helpful whenever I’m travelling or heading into the office.

To be clear, the Motorola Rizr isn’t releasing anytime soon, but I’m intrigued by its unique design and can’t wait to see what other prototypes Motorola has coming next. I’d personally love a rollable that starts out as a handset and gets larger, particularly for days where I’m lazing around watching content or surfing the web. But when I have to carry a phone in my pocket all day long, the Rizr and other small devices that can become larger are looking better for everyday use.

While many readers may not see eye to eye with me on this handset, after reviewing standard candy-bar-shaped smartphones for several years, innovation like this excites me.

Whether it be rollable or foldable, when new form factors, features or even gimmicks are released, I’m a happy person.