TCL Teases Flexible AMOLED Smartphone Prototypes
Rollable, double- and triple-fold AMOLED smartphones are among three dozen concepts company is considering.
Foldable phones such as the aptly-named Samsung Galaxy Fold, its second-generation successor the Galaxy Z Flip, and the reborn Motorola RAZR, are suddenly…a thing. So self-professed “fast follower” TCL, which will enter the U.S. smartphone market this spring with its solid Series 10 line, is playing with three dozen foldable/flexible AMOLED screen prototypes for possible future release. The company is trying to figure out not only what flex screen and hinge technologies will and won’t work, but what form factors would excite the market. We got a chance to play with three of TCL’s flexible smartphone screen experiments.
“We’re trying different shapes to see what makes the most sense,” explains Joel Sawyer, TCL’s North American director of marketing. Of course, the simplest foldable form factor is a device that simply folds in half, such as this clamshell prototype. As with all these prototypes, the displays are all TCL’s own AMOLED technology, as are the butterfly and dragonfly hinge technologies with which the company is experimenting.
Upping the degree of foldable difficulty is compressing a tablet into a more manageable carrying size. This may look like your everyday, normal 10-inch tablet, but….
…this tablet actually triple folds. Each third can display different apps or different parts of the same app, or, obviously, display a single image. This and its other flexible phone prototypes are designed to show off TCL’s display manufacturing expertise, along with the combined TCL-CSO – Shenzhen’s China Star Optoelectronics, which TCL bought a piece of in September 2017.
For easier pocket portage, this tri-fold tablet prototype condenses into an admittedly thick mobile device with a 6.65-inch, 20.8:9 aspect ratio display with 3K resolution.
TCL’s most radical flex AMOLED concept is this rollable screen phone, also be dubbed a scroll phone – scroll as in those ancient tubular papyrus rolls. In its normal state, this TCL rollable prototype looks just like a normal phone with a 6.75-inch screen. But, when you hold the phone in both hands and gesture/swipe across….
…the phone’s motorized mechanism unspools the AMOLED screen creating a 7.8-inch touch display. Thanks to a larger axis and rolled display, the screen doesn’t exhibit any visible wrinkles or creases typical of foldable AMOLEDs. When can you buy any or all of these rollable and foldable phones? Sawyer says TCL’s first flexible phone will appear in about a year at the earliest. Which model of the 36 concepts? “We’re not sure anyone knows which one,” Sawyer says. “We’re studying the usage case scenarios to see what people really want.”