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TCL’s new foldable and rollable concepts imagine a wild future of phones

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Origami, but make it a phone

6D彩票网开户The first wave of foldable devices are here, and honestly they’ve tended to be a bit... disappointing. But even as hardware companies are still trying to get flexible displays right, TCL is already looking ahead with a pair of foldable and rollable prototypes that imagines what the future of phones could look like.

TCL had two new prototypes to show off: a trifold device that can unfold from a 6.65-inch phone into a full-size, 10-inch tablet, and a very early concept for its sliding, rollable phone that leaked in February (which wasn’t actually a functional device, but rather a dummy unit, complete with a paper screen).

TCL actually showed off the trifold tablet / phone at CES, but it wasn’t functional then. The unit I got to try was — for a generous definition of “functional,” anyway. It turns on and it has a working foldable screen that runs Android, at the very least.

6D彩票网开户It’s still very much a proof-of-concept device, but with a working unit, you can start to get some ideas of what those concepts are. Unlike the Galaxy Fold or the Huawei Mate X, the trifold is arguably the first model that highlights the initial promise of a foldable device: it turns a phone into a tablet, not just a wider phone.

Fully unfolded, the trifold has a 10-inch screen — bigger than a full-size 9.7-inch iPad. You can start watching a video on the smaller, regular screen, then pop it out to the more enjoyable tablet mode without carrying around a second device. Open the calendar app on “phone” mode and see your day’s schedule; expand it to tablet to see your whole month view. Even the halfway “two-screen” mode is interesting: it feels perfect for reading an ebook on two pages and can be easily propped up using the “third” screen as a stand.

The prototype leverages tons of TCL’s experimental tech, from the folding display itself to two different types of hinges: one fold uses the company’s DragonHinge setup6D彩票网开户, while the other uses a “ButterflyHinge” to achieve two completely flush folds.

Photo by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge
  • Photo by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge
  • Photo by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge
  • Photo by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge
  • Photo by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge
  • Photo by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge
  • Photo by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge
  • Photo by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge
  • Photo by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge
  • Photo by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge
  • But again, neither of these devices are meant to be actual products at this point. TCL isn’t saying when — or even if — you’ll be able to buy either of these phones. Nor is it clear that even if TCL does make foldable products down the line, they’ll look anything like these prototypes. The company says that it’s experimenting with dozens of different form factors — we’ve already seen another design for a more traditional book-style fold at CES.

    6D彩票网开户But phones have basically looked the same for over decade: black boxes with touchscreens. Devices like the trifold or the sliding concept — even if they’re not here yet — show off what the future of phones might look like. And while the challenges to making these phones are unquestionably real, it’s still exciting to see that we’re getting closer to a world where they might soon be a reality.

    Photography by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge

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