TCL concept phone is foldable and rollable — I'd break it immediately

Render of the prototype foldable and rollable concept from TCL
(Image credit: TCL)

TCL is mostly associated with affordable TVs, but the brand is trying to change that with a number of solid affordable phones, like the TCL 10 5G UW, along with some splashy prototype concepts that it has shown off at CES

It's the latter that has caught our attention today with CNET obtaining sketches and renders from TCL that shows a combination foldable and rollable phone that could allow for a much more expansive secondary form factor than current foldables (via SlashGear). 

This design utilizes both the rollable display tech that we've seen for a couple of years now from TCL as well as the company's "DragonHinge," which is a different method than what Samsung uses for the Galaxy Z Fold 2. While the folding displays look like a remarkable feat of engineering, rollables look more akin to magic with the additional screen real estate seemingly pulled out of the device.

The sketches give a slightly clearer look at what's going on with the thicker rollable section tapering off to the thinner folding section. This presumably would lead to even proportions when the folded section is down, but there are no sketches or renders of the closed device. Even just looking at the sketches has me worried about breaking this phone, but until we see some of TCL's designs actually make it to market it's hard to know.

TCL sketches of rollable and foldable concept phone

(Image credit: TCL)

Given that we have seen TCL demo these ambitious prototypes for a few years now, it is far from clear when or if this exact model will actually be available. TCL did claim at CES that it will finally be shipping one of its foldable or rollable prototypes in 2021. Don't count on this being that device because we expect a more traditional foldable or rollable first. 

The most compelling thing about either solution from TCL is affordability. While it is sure to be expensive compared to the typically sub-$500 devices from TCL, it would be surprising to see it well above $1,000, making it a bargain in the foldable realm.

Sean Riley

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.