The latest innovation in foldables comes from the least expected place: TCL, a company that made the news recently when they decided to ditch the BlackBerry brand and stop making devices under this logo. Now it turns out that TCL had multiple innovative projects ready, including a phone with a slide out screen.
Images have been recently discovered by CNET’s Jessica Dolcourt and they show a new device from this company, which by the way also makes Alcatel smartphones. The images show a display that extends from a phone to a tablet form factor by sliding out from the main body. The device was prepped for a prototype showcasing at MWC 2020, but the event was cancelled on account of the whole coronavirus thing. We’ve heard before that the future of foldables is definitely not the hinge.
There’s an attempt to use sliding parts and also rollable parts, as a sheet of glass or plastic OLED may be able to roll around a cylinder in the future and unroll to expand the viewing surface. Back to the TCL machine, it looks like a regular phone with an edge to edge screen and cutout for the front cameras. You can extend the display sideways to reveal an extra portion of the display hidden behind the main screen. The extended screen must be supported by a special frame in order not to break.
The rear camera setup is at the right most edge of the phone, placed in a vertical arrangement, where the slide out part would impact the component arrangements the least. The good news is that this sliding design doesn’t require dual part batteries like we’ve seen on the Galaxy Fold and Z Flip. The concept design seems based on the TCL 10 Pro, a phone priced below $500 launched by TCL at CES 2020 last month.
TCL also played with other foldable concepts, like a tri fold screen and even a budget foldable.