Much of the attention around the folders has been focused on the hinge and causing the display to fold completely. CNet got its hands on the TCL prototype mobile phone. And even if it's just a model that doesn't work, we think the idea has a lot of potential.
After images released by CNET took a look at the conceptual equipment, TCL made it official by showing a prototype of the sliding media device earlier this week. The 'slippery' made its appearance alongside a working model of the trifold concept that TCL showed last year, which colleague Eli Blumenthal was able to try out.
And the company's budgetary roots must have encouraged everyone on the TCL team that is "on the verge" of launching a foldable that is 30% to 40% cheaper than the existing folders on the market, according to Stefan Streit, director overall global marketing of the company. That would make a big difference when the starting price for the Galaxy Z Flip is just $ 1,380 (about € 1217). When a prototype of a doll is mentioned, it was a doll.
The model had no electronics, and the screen was little more than a thin, fragile sheet of plastic printed with the appearance of the screen. There were several cases where it was difficult to open the thing. And all the while, there was fear that it would break, but TCL said it has a working prototype, including a mechanism that automatically opens and closes the phone. CNet saw images of the device and the screen in motion. It moved more slowly than it looked, and still looked rough as a prototype. But the idea is enough to get you excited, in addition to the wow factor.
That's why Mate X folds out, and that's why the Galaxy Fold has a gap in the middle. The Galaxy Z Flip clamshell and Motorola Razr use different hinges to minimize the actual turning radius, but they don't actually bend. An affordable phone would avoid this problem. Because it would be launched, there would be no need to fold completely closed or for a fancy hinge to get around the crease issue. There would be no creases. The Galaxy Fold surprised people when Samsung showed the device a year ago. A few days later, Huawei added fuel to the fire with mate X that surprised everyone. The era of folding phones was coming.
This year, with the Galaxy Z Flip and Motorola Razr, there is a modest level of interest in folding, and no longer like the immense curiosity of a year ago. If they are good enough for ´pharaohs and knights´, they are good enough for us. At least that was what was being teased after watching LG's OLED TV and wondering if the technology would find its way safely. TCL, a company best known for making big-screen TVs and budget-friendly, did it and in a way that makes perfect sense. Although foldable phones have been launched as the future of all our phones, the idea of a rolling screen that unfolds and expands may prove to be an alternative view of our future phone.
When given the opportunity to play with the mobile phone, sliding the screen in and out it was found that initially the phone holds up, looking quite normal, but there is a break in the phone's frame, close to the right edge, which allows pull the screen and widen it to twice the normal width. It is a normal 6.75-inch screen when closed, but extends to 7.8 inches when opened.
The effect is noticeable when we take a quick look at it, as if the screen is stretching like rubber while we pull it. However, we look more closely and see the excess flexible screen coming out of the left side. When closed, the rest of the screen is wrapped around the back of the display. Bringing this to a larger device would have even more applications. Imagine taking a tablet and stretching it to your own complete monitor. CNET editor Scott Stein has a good opinion on why folders have more applications than just phones and tablets.
For TCL, a 'slideable' phone would be a good way to get on the map. The company has long made affordable phones using the Alcatel brand, and has an agreement to sell BlackBerry branded phones. But the name TCL itself is associated with affordable (and extremely good) televisions, not phones. Here is the bad news. TCL has been showing these folding concepts for some time, starting a year ago. And while they look cool, we shouldn't hold our breath for someone to appear on the market soon. Streit predicts that one will come out in the first half of 2021. The company has 36 different types of prototypes it has worked on, according to Streit, so there is no guarantee that the scrollable will be chosen. But if TCL wants to generate some buzz, it would be wise to place the 'slippery' on the road map. We are all looking forward to something different, and a 'slideable' phone can be something different, and that makes sense.