TCL is once again teasing a foldable phone concept — and it’s a Frankenstein’s monster of some previously showcased flexible concepts. Called Fold ‘n Roll, it combines the company’s “dragonhinge” technology with an extendable display panel. The result is a 6.87-inch phone that can expand to an 8.85-inch phablet size or fully extend to a 10-inch tablet. Outside of that, the company isn’t offering any other detailed information.
TCL says it’s “still exploring the technical specifications” of this type of device, which doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence that the Fold n’ Roll will hit the market anytime soon. But TCL did say it plans to launch some kind of foldable phone before the end of 2021. The company has offered no shortage of foldable display concepts; most recently, it had several to show off at this year’s virtual CES. But there’s a long distance between creating concepts and turning them into mass-market products.
Still, TCL might be in a good position to address a gap in the rollable market: affordable devices. Flexing, rolling phones are mostly reserved for the high end of the market right now, and TCL may be well-positioned to offer a less costly option. Samsung has hinted at a lower-cost flexible device coming soon, but until then, its current Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold 2 options are still very pricey.
LG’s rollable concept may have been destined for a flagship device, but with the manufacturer’s exit from the smartphone business, we’ll never know if that tech might have trickled down to a midrange device. If it is TCL’s intention to offer something more affordable in the space, then there’s certainly some room to jump in.