After MWC 2020 was cancelled, TCL has gone ahead with the reveal of the smartphone tech it's been working on, showing off concepts for a rollable, extendable display, and a tri-fold tablet screen.
The company has been beavering away on foldables for a while, first revealing them at MWC 2019. We weren't all that impressed, and the company was in no rush to get its foldable devices to market, but we got another look at what it had to offer at IFA 2019 and we did an about face because they didn't look like crap anymore.
With a foldable tablet and sliding display smartphone, TCL is bringing something new to the table and if it pulls it off without a hitch, both devices could elbow out the competition. There's not much right now, and even though Samsung has got its act together after the Galaxy Fold debacle with the new clamshell Galaxy Z Flip, the smartphone isn't without its own problems, and the same goes for the Moto Razr, with its lumpy bumpy screen that it assures its customers is normal, while missing the point that people don't want to spend a shit ton of cash on a phone with a textured display. It's not a selling point.
TCL is only offering up concept devices at this stage, but if it the extra time it's taken to perfect its foldable, rollable displays pays off, and it gets them out in time to meet the Galaxy Fold 2 head on, I don't doubt people will opt for more screen real estate, as long as the specs are good enough, and the price stacks up.
TCL's tri-fold tablet concept
The AMOLED rollable screen is just 9mm thick and utilises motors to extend from a 6.75-inch screen to a 7.8-inch display, allowing for split-screen and multitasking using custom UI enhancements. The "wrinkles and creases" of the current foldable displays aren't an issue thanks to the larger axis coupled with the rolled screen.
TCL has also stated its interest in using foldable tech for tablets, as well as smartphones, although you could argue that the line between the two will become blurred as the technology becomes more prevalent and refined. The tri-fold tablet concept folds up using a DragonHinge (that folds out) and a ButterflyHinge (that folds in) to create a 10-inch tablet that can collapse down to a 6.65-inch device with 20.8:9 aspect ratio and 3K display resolution. It's the first tablet to design to use double hinges this way and looks awesome, frankly.
At this stage, there's no pricing or release dates for either device, but TCL has definitely brought something new and interesting to the foldables party, and larger companies should take note.