We could not take pictures of these devices, but we were allowed to push them together, pull them apart and look closely at their seams. It is clear why TCL does not want photos of these specific prototypes in the wild. These are worn-out models that in some cases have been pulled into directions they should never go to. They are not pretty, but they suggest new ways to introduce a foldable device other than the tablet-in-book design of Samsung and Huawei and the double bending approach of Xiaomi.
Most importantly, TCL's ability to experiment with the "DragonHinge" that bends the hardware at all.
CNET was the first report making of TCL. This is the company responsible for the Alcatel and BlackBerry brands. It became known mainly for televisions with a medium price. When it comes to folding devices, TCL will make its brand known for cell phones that cost far less than Samsung's "luxury" Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X – at least 30 percent cheaper, maybe even more.
The Galaxy Fold and Mate X rival
The most famous design was a wallet-style phone that folds to a tablet display. This seemed to be on the smaller side than the 7.3 and 8 inch screens we see from Samsung and Huawei, and there was a curved gap in which the hinge bends (this seems pretty common ). Remember, it's still just an early concept device.
I liked two aspects of the TCL approach here. At first, the concept that we saw in the glass played with a lighted LED outside on the case indicating the time of day. This would replace the place of at least one of two possible outdoor screens – a compromise if you make a cheaper version of something more expensive that is inherently more expensive – and still provide something useful. Second, I liked the magnetic ends that kept the device securely closed. Since we did not have time to get involved with Mate X or Galaxy Fold, it was the closure that let us feel what it's like to open and close these new devices.
We also saw a concept that works the other way, with the largest screen on the outside.
Read : TCL's DragonHinge enables a family of folding devices
The phone that becomes the watch
Imagine a long, slender phone arching backwards like a gymnast and wrapping itself around your wrist. I've worked with a silver concept design with articulated hinges on his back that give him a reptile feel – after all, it's called a dragon's hinge. It reminded me of the links in a silver watch that my father used to carry, playing with me as a bored boy sitting somewhere where my silence was in demand.
This portable, bendable phone concept is similar to thewe saw in 2016: Considering how long foldable concepts are in work, it is not surprising that at least one brand does Design revised.
Although TCL will not be the first time it will be marketable until 2020, both concepts are promising for a brand that wants to make it foldable for everyone.
A phone with a lip
The last phone concept we saw also had a longer, narrow design. This screen leans over itself like a wallet. Instead of connecting symmetrically at the ends, the upper section shows a lower lip when folded down.
TCL said it had toyed with the idea of making this exposed stripe functional, such as a mini-screen displaying the time and key notifications. My two CNET colleagues and I have unanimously avoided this design. Call us conventional, but I think we prefer symmetry.