TCL, the company best known in the mobile world for holding the license to make BlackBerry devices, has made no secret of its foldable phone plans. It has shown off, and talked about, folding smartphones and the hinges that are so essential to their operation since the beginning of the year. Now it has revealed a spectacular new type of folding device design, and it’s unlike any we’ve seen before.
Take a look at the photo. The TCL phone, which is strictly a concept and does not have a name or release date, has a dual hinge that unfolds the massive 10-inch screen, concertina-style. Like the Huawei Mate X, the TCL device has a single screen, but here there are two hinges splitting it into thirds. Open, it has a single, 10-inch expanse of a display, while folding it down once lessens the screen real-estate, and for a second time gives you a thick, single-screen viewing experience. That’s a lot of versatility, and plenty of potential for media viewing and productivity use.
The TCL phone shown to CNET was not a working version, therefore should be treated as a concept of what’s possible, rather than an example of what TCL will release in the future. The brand announced its first phone — the TCL Plex — to wear the TCL name in September, and in an interview with Digital Trends at the time, said it would be ready to talk about foldable phones during Mobile World Congress 2020, which will take place at the end of February. However, more details about its screen technology will likely come at CES 2020 at the beginning of the year. We may not have long to wait before we see if this is representative of what TCL will launch over the coming year.
TCL’s zigzag concertina folding smartphone is very unusual, and another in the growing number of experimental folding phone designs we’re seeing. TCL has also shown off other folding phone designs that use a single hinge for either vertical or horizontal use, while it’s almost certain Motorola will introduce a vertically folding smartphone at an event on November 13. Xiaomi has teased an intriguing folding phone design in the past too, and Microsoft turned everything on its head with the dual-screen Surface Duo. The Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X are only the beginning.
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