Skip to main content

Check out TCL’s cool new foldable concept phones

Despite early teething problems, foldable screen technology is finding its way into an increasing number of innovative new devices. Foldable screens mean that manufacturers can create devices that, in theory, offer the portability of a typical smartphone, with the screen real estate of a tablet. Properly implemented, this gets you the best of both worlds.

TCL has unveiled two intriguing concept phones that could add further variety to mobile devices. While at first glance they appear similar to other foldables, a closer look reveals unique hidden talents.

Fold n Roll

TCL Fold n Roll concept device.

The key to the Fold n Roll’s party trick lies in its name. It features a screen that measures roughly 7-inches when unfolded, but which can then be extended still further to 8.8-inches via a mechanism that unrolls an extra section of screen from one side of the device. This way, TCL is able to cram an even larger screen into the phone without increasing its overall size.

The screen features 2880 x 2160 resolution, which works out to 360ppi (pixels per inch). It’s 8mm thick when unfolded and 18mm thick when folded. That means there’s probably a 2mm gap between the two halves when it’s folded up.

Ultra Flex

TCL Ultra Flex concept device.

The Ultra Flex appears to be a somewhat more traditional foldable smartphone, if traditional is a word that can be applied to any of these unusual, bleeding-edge devices. It implements a 360-degree hinge design so that it can go from a closed clamshell to a tablet to a more standard smartphone format.

The screen is an 8.01-inch PLP AMOLED 2489 x 1860 resolution display that supports the active pen stylus. Looking at the design, we can see that it has two sets of cameras: A rear array with three cameras and a flash and two front-facing cameras.

Folding into a flexible market

TCL has been working on foldable phones for some time now but has yet to actually launch one. They face stiff competition from other brands that have already established themselves in the foldable phone market. Samsung is already on its third iteration of their Galaxy Z Fold series, with the Fold 3 being a fearsomely capable device.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G.
Ajay Kumar/Digital Trends

It’s much like TCLs Ultra Flex, but the Fold 3 offers a second whole screen so that it can be used as a phone with the main camera array still available. The Ultra Flex, on the other hand, takes the approach of implementing a 360-degree hinge so that it doesn’t need that extra display. The tradeoff is that in phone mode you can only use the smaller front-facing camera array. A potential advantage of The Ultra Flex design is that when folded closed, all of its screen space is protected, much like a classic flip phone.

Though we have no indication of how either device might be priced, it is logical to assume that the Ultra Flex might be a relatively affordable foldable when compared to the Fold 3. Since it doesn’t have a second exterior screen like the Fold 3, that should keep costs down.

Concepts worth having

The Fold n Roll is clearly aimed at shrinking the footprint of foldables without sacrificing screen space. To me, this is an important factor, as one thing that has put me off of these devices is that they tend to be bulkier than standard smartphones. The Fold n Roll could offer a more pocket-friendly alternative to the Galaxy Z Fold 3.

It’s important to remember that these TCL foldable phones are still just concept devices, so they may well change dramatically when and if they eventually hit the market.

Editors' Recommendations

Andy Zahn
Andy Zahn is a freelance writer and photographer living on a small farm in the shadow of Mt. St. Helens. He currently writes…
The new Oppo Find N2 is the folding phone upgrade I’ve waited all year for
Holding the partially open Oppo Find N2.

The Oppo Find N2 may sound like it’s a simple sequel to the Oppo Find N folding smartphone we first saw this time last year. You almost already know what it will be like; the usual small spec updates and perhaps a slightly new look too. It’s not, though — it's actually way more than that.

The Oppo Find N2 is such a massive generational improvement that it makes the Find N feel almost like a prototype device, and it shows what manufacturers can do in a year when they really put their minds to it. What's more, its brilliance is great news for another forthcoming foldable phone from Oppo.
Is the Find N2 really that much better?

Read more
The biggest challenge for foldable phones in 2023? Variety
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 sitting on a bench.

Huawei recently announced that it is launching a new foldable smartphone, the Pocket S, which looks to be a pretty solid addition to the current foldable landscape — touting decent specs and a competitive price point. The only major problem with it is that it’s launching as a regional exclusive, something that seems to be a recurring issue with foldable devices.

Foldables are clearly on the rise, with new options launching at a more rapid pace, and many in the U.S. want in on it — but there’s one problem: in the U.S., there simply aren’t that many foldable phones to choose from. Here, the list of viable foldables on the market is pretty small. We’ve got the one-two punch of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Galaxy Z Flip 4, as well as the 2020 Motorola Razr, but that’s about it.
The greener foldable grass

Read more
Oppo’s answer to the Fold 4 and Flip 4 sounds impressive in new spec leaks
Oppo Find N split window mode.

Oppo has been competing head-to-head with the likes of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 with the Find N. But its successor — the rumored Find N2, as well as another rumored flip phone device — seem like they could be the best foldables that the company has offered if recent leaks are to be believed. Foldables have been growing in terms of their popularity in the mobile market, and with the release of its new devices, Oppo may be leading the charge.

According to a post on Chinese blogging site Weibo (first spotted by GSMArena), the Find N2 boasts relatively similar specs to the original Find N, with one major upgrade: a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor. The new chipset is a big step up from the Find N's Snapdragon 888, putting it on a similar level as Samsung's current lineup of foldables, which also use the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1.

Read more