Gadgets for humans

TCL shows off its tri-fold phone prototype that turns into a 10-inch tablet

And it looks like three folds might actually make more sense than two

TCL is primarily known as a display manufacturer and TV brand — but it also makes phones under the Alcatel, BlackBerry, and Palm labels. If all goes according to plan, you’ll remember the name a lot better in the near future when it starts bringing its foldable phones to market, including this ambitious tri-fold model that it’s still working on.

CNET’s Jessica Dolcourt got a chance to check out a prototype of TCL’s latest venture, which features two of the company’s DragonHinges to morph into a 10-inch tablet when unfolded: One folds in, and the other folds out.

With two hinges, the device will naturally be pretty thick, but at least it’ll feel like a normal phone with a usable tall screen on the front, and a quad camera array on the rear. And as Dolcourt noted, the tri-fold design could allow for using one portion of the screen as a keyboard, while the other two portions could serve as a large display. That leads me to believe there might be something to this foldable madness after all.

TCL's tri-fold phone has one portion of its screen fold in, and the other fold out
Credit: CNET
TCL’s tri-fold phone has one portion of its screen fold in, and the other fold out

In any case, it’s too early to tell. The prototype that Dolcourt handled wasn’t a working model, and we have no idea about the device’s specs, pricing or launch date. The company has previously shown off other foldable concepts, including one with a single hinge and a working flexible OLED display — so hopefully it will actually be able to bring these to life.

For now, you’ll want to keep an eye on Samsung’s $1,980 Galaxy Fold, which is now available in stores across South Korea, and Huawei’s CNY 16,999 ($2,400) Mate X, which will begin shipping in China on November 15.

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Published October 25, 2019 — 09:57 UTC