After years of indistinguishable shiny black rectangles, smartphones have suddenly started getting interesting again, and we are delighted.
Particularly now we've seen the concept phone TCL was planning to debut at the now-cancelled Mobile World Congress next week, which has a patio door-style screen that slides out. Like how your mum's dinner table could double in size through some wooden wizardry when company came round.
The phone doesn't have a name (that we know of), but CNET managed to get hold of some images, and it is ridiculously cool. Look at it:
We thought foldable phones were clever, but this is another level. The images don't give us a whole lot of information about how the sliding mechanism works, or what happens to the screen when it's tucked away, or what any of this is made of. And it's only a concept, so it might not be something we'll be able to buy anytime soon – but CNET says TCL did have a working prototype they were going to show at MWC. We suspect it would have been behind glass, but they've clearly made at least one where the mechanism works.
We're absolutely dying to know more about this innovative design, particularly because it's a way of hiding extra screen space in a small footprint that no one else seems to have thought of (or, at least, haven't been able to get working). TCL are well-known for their display expertise, so if anyone can do it, hopefully it's them.
We're guessing the screen will be some kind of flexible plastic that wraps around the edge of the phone to look like a normal curved screen edge, then pulls out to reveal the rest of the display. But of course there are millions of questions, like how easy will it be to pull vs break? How thick will it have to be to house the mechanism? And will there be visible creases when the screen is fully extended?
We don't know yet when or if TCL will reschedule its MWC activity so we can get our grubby hands on this beautiful device, but thank the tech gods, we are finally excited about phones again. [CNET]
All images: CNET