TCL Is Rolling out New Foldable Phone Concepts

A tablet display with two hinges slightly bent to form an almost Z shape
TCL

TCL, the manufacturer behind the popular budget 4K Roku TV found in homes just about everywhere now, really wants in on the phone and tablet game. It’s been showing various device concepts for a while, and now it has two more for you to ogle. The first is a tri-fold device that, unlike the Z Flip, can fold into a Z shape. The second is even more wild, as it starts as a phone and rolls out into something more.

Unfortunately, right now, both phones in question are concepts at best. TCL has a working prototype of the tri-fold display, but it’s far from ready to put in your hands. It uses two proprietary hinge technologies dubbed DragonHinge and ButterflyHinge to fold a 10-inch tablet into a 6.65-inch device with 20.8:9 aspect ratio and 3K display resolution.

A folded up tablet device showing the time.
TCL

Notably, TCL hasn’t called the tri-fold device a phone, so we’re not sure what you’d use the folded-up tablet for exactly. Perhaps the idea is solely to have a more portable tablet that can give you quick access to some functions on the go.

A rollable display phone, with screen in various positions.
TCL

The other device TCL is showing off IS a phone, though, and it’s astounding in concept. It starts off looking like your typical 6.75-inch smartphone slab, but then the screen slides and expands into a tablet. While the display is still technically folding, TCL went a different route than we’ve seen before. The company calls it a rollable phone concept.

In the closed position, TCL wraps the screen around one edge the device to the back, akin to the recent waterfall displays some other manufacturers have announced. But, push a button, and the screen slides to the front and expands out to turn into a 7.8-inch display. A motor controls all the action, so you won’t need to pull or adjust anything. TCL says rolling the screen out like this will prevent the display from having any wrinkles or creases.

Just watch this video, and you’ll understand.

At this point, you might be wondering when you can fork over your hard-earned cash to own this device (and much forking cash it calls for), but we have bad news. TCL isn’t ready to announce a release date, cost, or, well, anything concrete. These are concepts phones, and the rollable device doesn’t exist in hardware format at all right now. It’s likely going to be a long time before the company feels ready to put them in consumer’s hands.

Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson
Josh Hendrickson has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smarthome enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read Full Bio »

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