Next week sees the arrival of the answer for people who like small handsets but detest small displays: a phone with a rollable display that can be bigger than the device itself.

Polymer Vision and the mobile arm of Telecom Italia are developing the world's first mobile device with a rollable display, which will be able to receive all types of information, including maps, newspapers and even electronic books.

The companies will show a prototype at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona next week and plan a commercial launch later this year. The product follows up on a rollable-display concept device presented by Polymer Vision 18 months ago at the IFA Consumer Electronics Trade Fair in Berlin.

The rollable polymer-display technology enables mobile devices to incorporate a display that is larger than the device itself.

Although the new device is similar in size to a typical cell phone, it has a display that extends up to 5 inches and may be stored away after use by folding it. The display has 16 gray levels combined with high contrast and high reflectivity for a paper-like reading experience, even in bright sunlight. Planned future developments include colour and the ability to display moving images.

The device will have a minimum of 4 Gbyte of storage, with data to be transmitted over the cellular network of Telecom Italia or broadcast using DVB-H IP data-casting.

Telecom Italia will market the product exclusively in Italy, while Polymer Vision will sell it elsewhere.