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Forget foldables: TCL shows off the first ‘rollable’ phone concept

While the likes of Samsung and Motorola have their own thoughts about what’s next for foldable phones, TCL has a vision of its own — and its vision is a little different from the rest. Turns out, the leaked images from a few weeks ago were correct — the company does indeed have a phone with a display that seemingly stretches as needed.

It’s currently only a concept, and of course, the display doesn’t actually stretch. Instead, it rolls into the back of the phone to make for a 6.75-inch display when in the “closed” position, and unrolls into a larger 7.8-inch display when in the “open” position. It sounds confusing, but thankfully TCL has released a short video showing off how it would work.

According to TCL, the phone sits in at only 9mm thick, making it much thinner than a traditional foldable phone when used in “phone” mode. The device would offer other advantages, too. And because the display isn’t actually folded, there’s no crease.

The rollable phone isn’t the only concept device that TCL is showing off. The company also released a concept for a “tri-fold” phone, which is essentially a device that folds into three parts instead of two, like most current foldable devices. The result would be a much larger unfolded display; however, the downside would be a thicker device when folded. When opened, TCL says the device would offer a 10-inch 3K display.

“With these latest concept devices, TCL has clearly shown that there is still plenty of room for new ideas when it comes to flexible and foldable display technologies, and it’s critical for us to think outside the box and lead with innovation,” said Shane Lee, General Manager, Global Product Center at TCL Communication, in a press release. “These new form factors leverage display and hinge technologies that already exist entirely within our fully integrated TCL ecosystem, allowing us to reimagine the future of mobile device development with an aggressive research and development program.”

Of course, if you’re like me, you probably want to get your hands on one of these devices as soon as possible — but don’t hold your breath on getting one any time soon. TCL may have some interesting concepts up its sleeve, but as we’ve seen a number of times now, foldable phones still need some work before they can be as durable and versatile as the market expects.

TCL says that “no pricing or availability details for TCL’s rollable extendable display smartphone concept are being announced at this time,” which at least leaves the door open for those details to be announced down the line.

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