Anyone who believed that TCL was only a maker of TVs could be forgiven, after all, the company does make a huge line of smart TVs with built-in Roku and other services, and many of them were on sale last month ahead of the Super Bowl. What you may not know is that TCL is into the smartphone arena as well and is a Chinese company that owns the Blackberry Mobile and Alcatel smartphone brands. Today, a new report has surfaced that claims that TCL is working on some very cool foldable display smartphones concepts, and one of the devices folds up like a smartwatch.
Renderings of the devices have leaked, and an image of the device that transforms into a smartwatch that wraps around the user's wrist has surfaced in a patent filing. TCL is said to be working on at least five devices that all have folding screens; the line is said to include a pair of tablets, a pair of smartphones, and this convertible device that doubles as a smartwatch.
One of the tablets has a screen that folds inward like a clamshell with the other tablet having a screen on the outside or back of the device. The two smartphone devices also feature one with the screen on the inside and one with a screen on the outside that bend at a horizontal line, meaning they would fold like a flip phone. Motorola is tipped to be working on a folding device that would fold in this manner as well, said to be a revival of the iconic RAZR. The TCL smartphone that folds into a smartwatch is the most interesting of the quintet of devices, however.
It appears to be very narrow making for a strange form factor when it's opened up in phone mode. The narrow form factor is required when the device is folded around the wrist, obviously to minimize bulk in that use case.
Smartphone manufacturers are rushing to get into the folding smartphone game with devices expected to surface at MWC 2019; Huawei is expected to unveil a folding screen device at the show. Xiaomi has shown off its folding screen device that looks different from the Samsung device that was teased last year and is expected to debut next week in the company's San Francisco Unpacked event. TCL has stated that its first folding smartphone device will launch in 2020.