In brief: Chinese television maker TCL is throwing their hat into the foldable device ring, with renderings of at least five flexible devices surfacing recently. The devices include two tablets and two smartphones, with the fifth device being a smartphone that snaps onto the users wrist becoming a smartwatch. While TCL isn't well-known for their handsets, they do manufacture both Blackberry and Alcatel devices, and could shake up the market against more expensive offerings from Samsung.
Foldable devices are where it's at so far in 2019, and now television maker TCL is jumping on the bandwagon. The Chinese company known for its budget but feature-rich televisions is reportedly working on at least five devices that will feature a flexible display.
The lineup includes two tablets, two phones, and a third phone that could bend into a smartwatch. The company released renderings showing examples of all five devices, and filed a patent for the phone-to-smartwatch design.
The foldable tablets and phones have two versions each. One tablet folds inward like a clamshell, while the other folds outward so that the screen is on the outside of the device, similar to the Royole Flexpai. Judging by the patent filing, the hybrid phone/smartwatch device seemingly snaps onto the users wrist like a snap bracelet, converting from a phone to a wearable with just the flick of the wrist.
TCL joins Huawei, Samsung, Lenovo, and others in the foldable device craze. Foldable devices are seen as the next big leap in mobile design, with manufacturers scrambling to be the first to market with a viable folding device.
At CES in January, TCL's general manager of global marketing said that their foldable dreams weren't just limited to smartphones, and that other products like appliances, TVs, and wearables could benefit from the new tech.
These images are preliminary renderings and are subject to change, so no word on specs, pricing, or timing. With a reputation for bringing high-quality consumer products to market at a lower price, TCL is an interesting entry into what is sure to be a very high-priced line of foldable devices once they hit the market.
While TCL isn't known for manufacturing handsets, they acquired the rights to the Blackberry brand in 2016, and manufactured the KeyOne and Key2 devices. The company also brands and manufactures Alcatel phones outside of the US.