TCL unveils trifold and rollable smartphones

Are foldable smartphones the future? Maybe. With that said, they certainly are not the present. True, you can currently buy a smartphone with a flexible display from companies like Huawei, Samsung, and Motorola, but they are still very much early-adopter products. In other words, they are not only very expensive, but also, they are rather fragile and full of compromises. And so, most consumers would be wise to wait a couple years until flexible display products start to mature a bit.

Many companies are planning foldable smartphones for the future -- including Apple, I'd predict. An iPhone that unfolds into an iPad would be quite the impressive device. For now, Apple is mum on that. Today, however, one company -- TCL -- is making its plans quite apparent by unveiling two new concept phones. One is a trifold variant with two hinges, while the other is even crazier -- it is rollable! Yes, TCL has designed a phone that gets larger by utilizing a flexible display that rolls and unrolls -- it looks to be quite genius, actually.


"At just 9mm in thickness, this portable concept re-imagines the standard smartphone design, with a rollable AMOLED display that uses internal motors to extend the 6.75-inch screen to a 7.8-inch display size with the press of a button. This allows for an entirely new device user experience that includes split screen and multi-tasking UI enhancements customized by TCL. Thanks to a larger axis and rolled display, the device has no wrinkles or creases which are commonly found with foldable AMOLEDs. When not in use, a motor-driven sliding panel utilizes advanced mechanics to conceal the flexible display," says TCL.

The company further says, "While much of the development around foldables has been focused on smartphones, TCL also believes this technology can be leveraged for an even larger screen experience, which is why the company has introduced its tri-fold tablet concept, spearheading a new product category in development. This working prototype uses both of the company's hinge technologies -- 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. This is the first large screen tablet to leverage dual hinges and folds to achieve this type of product design, ensuring smooth folding inward and outward with a minimal gap, and features a multidimensional shine with a 3D holographic finish."

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Shane Lee, General Manager, Global Product Center at TCL Communication, provides the following statement.

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. 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.

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Ready to buy one of these amazing phones? Well, you can't. Sorry! You see, they are merely concept devices -- they may never become mass produced and released to the public. This is really just TCL showcasing what is possible with its cutting-edge technologies. With that said, these exact devices -- or similar ones -- could very well hit store eventually. The future is looking to be very exciting!

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