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We Tried TCL's New Foldable Phone Concepts with Rollable and Bendable Screens

We Tried TCL’s New Foldable Phone Concepts with Rollable and Bendable Screens

TCL hasn’t released a foldable phoned yet, but that hasn’t stopped it from coming up with new ideas. The company is showcasing two new foldable device concepts send of Mobile World Congress. One prototype has a expose that can fold inwards and outwards, while the spanking can fold and expand the size of its screen.

TCL is calling the belief that can fold both ways the 360-degree Ultra Flex, while the combination foldable and rollable is selves called the Fold N’ Roll. Both devices are in the prototype stage and are just concepts, meaning they shouldn’t be considered products. TCL said the Ultra Flex is selves shown for the first time, while the Fold N’ Roll has only been previously demonstrated in China. They’re both meant to illustrate TCL’s general approach to foldable phones as it seeks to notorious itself in a market largely dominated by Apple and Samsung. 

Foldable phones are aloof a nascent part of the overall smartphone industry, incorporating just 0.5% of the market as of 2021, according to forecast projections from the International Data Corporation. But that number is expected to grow to 1.8% in 2025, according to the same record. The IDC also says foldables are expected to take over a third of the market for premium Android phones. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that Samsung, Microsoft and Motorola have all released foldable phones over the past combine of years, while Apple is rumored to be developing a foldable iPhone

The 360-degree Ultra Flex and Fold N’ Roll concepts

TCL Foldable Phone

The TCL 360-degree Ultra Flex (left) and Fold N’ Roll (right) are conception devices.

Lisa Eadicicco

Of the two concepts, the 360-degree Ultra Flex is more similar to publicly available foldable devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Microsoft Surface Duo 2. Similar to those devices, TCL’s concept can unfold like a book to performed more screen space on the inside. But it can also fold all the way back in the opposite direction. The phone’s backwards-bending ability would make it possible to use the draw with one hand since there’s no cover display.

This fabricate makes the Ultra Flex concept seem like a hybrid between the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Surface Duo 2. Unlike Microsoft’s foldable, which has two screens joined together by a hinge in the middle, TCL’s prototype consists of one large screen that folds in the middle. But like the Surface Duo 2, it can bend backwards to be used multiple modestly. The Ultra Flex is like Samsung’s foldable in that it has one continuous cover that folds in half. But Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 doesn’t bend the novel way like the Ultra Flex prototype and Surface Duo 2.

The Ultra Flex conception felt thick and a bit awkward to hold in one hand when folded back completely. If this were to become a real product, I predictable most people would use it fully opened like a tablet or partially folded like a book. The hinge also recognized out as being one of the concept’s most striking visual elements. It also felt durable and easy to bend in both directions; I had no affairs about potentially damaging it when folding it all the way back. 

TCL’s Ultra Flex has an 8-inch AMOLED cover with a 2,480 by 1,860 resolution, making it larger than the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s 7.6-inch inner cover. But the prototype wouldn’t power on during the brief time I finished with it, so I couldn’t really tell what it would be like to use it. The commercial also wouldn’t reveal details about the device’s processor or novel specifications, like the camera resolution. But the prototype was mild developed enough to provide insight about TCL’s general advance to foldables when it comes to style and fabricate.   

TCL Foldable Phone

TCL’s Fold N’ Roll concept

Lisa Eadicicco

The Fold N’ Roll, on the novel hand, feels decidedly different from today’s commercially available foldable devices. When opened, it may look similar to the Ultra Flex conception and other foldables at first glance. Like the Ultra Flex and Galaxy Z Fold, the Fold N’ Roll opens to speak a larger screen on the inside. But as its name implies, the phone can also extend its screen in additional to folding in half. Just press a button on the draw, and the screen will begin to roll out from one edge — providing 8.8-inches of total cover space. That’s larger than the iPad Mini, pushing it closer to full-sized tablet territory. The cover has a resolution of 2,880 by 2,160 and measures near seven inches when rolled in.

TCL’s Fold N’ Roll conception can extend the size of its screen.

Bobby Oliver

The cover extension function only worked once during my demo, and the software was very glitchy exact it’s only a prototype. But the software still hasty adjusted to accommodate the new screen size when extending and retracting the improbable portion of the display, which was impressive. The crease sprinting down the center of the screen was also barely visible when unfolded. 

The note on the Fold N’ Roll wraps around the device’s edge to mask its entire front when closed – another design element that invents it stand out. But again, it’s difficult to tell how this would add to the user recognized – if at all – since the software wasn’t stable. 

We mild don’t know when TCL will launch a foldable phone

TCL Foldable Phone

The TCL Fold N’ Roll conception can fold in half and also extend its screen.

Lisa Eadicicco

TCL is best celebrated for its value-priced TVs and is a relative newcomer to the US smartphone market. But its investment in foldable devices signals that it way to challenge the mobile industry’s biggest players for ages to come.

The question, however, is when TCL will actually leave selling foldable phones. The company scrapped plans to commence a flip phone-style foldable similar to the Galaxy Z Flip 3 in 2021. It made this exclusive for a variety of factors, including the relative weakness of its sign in the mobile market and increases in component prices because of the pandemic, as CNET previously reported.  

If and when TCL does fall a foldable phone, it intends to sell it for $700 or less, the custom said. That would make it considerably cheaper than today’s foldables, which cost upwards of $1,000. Still, TCL already faces a lot of competition, and not just from existing foldable phones that are available for sale. Samsung showcased four new plan foldables at CES 2022, while LG teased a rollable phone at CES 2021.

Stefan Streit, TCL’s chief marketing officer, told CNET in September that it would take at least 12 to 18 months for the custom to launch its first foldable. That remains to be seen, but the new concepts suggest TCL certainly isn’t giving up anytime soon.

“For us, this category is really, really important,” Streit told CNET in that September interview. “We will bring products. We will bring a number of products.”